Hull City were relegated from the Championship in embarrassing fashion, but they’ve started this season like a train. He tells The Totally Football League Show: Extra-Time how they’ve done it…
There can’t have been a more dramatic turnaround than at Hull this season.
Last term they were abjectly relegated amid stories of chaos around the club, and there were few indications that they would deal with life in League One particularly well.
However, after a more or less complete overhaul of their squad over the summer, manager Grant McCann has led them to seven wins from their nine games, meaning they sit second in the table, just a point behind Lincoln.
“Last season was difficult for us all,” McCann told George Elek and Ali Maxwell on The Totally Football League Show: Extra-Time.
“On New Year’s Day we were goal difference outside the playoffs. Then we lost Kamil [Grosicki] and Jarrod [Bowen], we had about 12 injuries to key players, our form hit a dodgy spell which coincided with lockdown, then when we came back we had four or five players who didn’t want to play, two of which were our captain and vice-captain, which was annoying.
“Everything happened last year, but the owners have been firmly supportive of me and my staff. We understand that what happened last season after Christmas was not good enough for many of us.
“But I said straight after the game against Cardiff: this may help us. We can start creating a more together group, there’s no big egos, there’s nobody thinking “well he’s on [being paid] this, and I’m on that.”
“The group is completely cohesive, and they want to do well and get out of this division this year.”
Like many managers with a good record, McCann almost defaults to talking about the two games Hull haven’t won so far, rather than the seven they have.
“We were disappointed after the Peterborough game: it was probably the best we’ve played this season and to come away with zero points was frustrating. In the Fleetwood game we didn’t deserve anything.
“It’s a tough division. You have to be on your guard every week, and if you’re not you can be punished.”
One of the big reasons for their great start has been the form of young forward Keane Lewis-Potter, who has four goals from his eight starts, including a key winner against Wimbledon recently.
“He’s an exceptional talent. It’s been an unbelievable rise for him: when I first came in I was told about how many goals he’d got for the under-18s and 23s – I think he had 35-36 goals. I brought him straight in with [the first-team], kept him around for five or six months just so he could get used to the physicality of the first-team players, and then he just went from there.
“You can see the transformation in his body, his persona, the way he’s come out of his shell – and I just can’t speak highly enough of him.
“He reminds me of Jack Marriott. He’s quite similar in terms of he wants to play on the shoulder, can shoot right foot, left foot, can look after the ball and I think one thing that people might underestimate as well is that he’s very good in the air.
“We’re really pleased with his development, we hope he continues to get better and we’re looking forward to what the future holds for him.”
And of course another big factor has been the players McCann was able to bring in. Or, perhaps more accurately, the characters he was able to bring in.
“We brought in 12 signings, all very good characters. One of the first we brought in was an out-and-out total winner in Richie Smallwood, knows this division, has been promoted with Rotherham and Blackburn.
“I spoke to Tony Mowbray, and he said there are two big, massive pictures on the wall of his training ground: one of Bradley Dack, who he calls ‘The Artist’, and one of Smallwood, who he called ‘The Warrior’. That was enough for me to bring Richie into the club.”
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