Success in England’s top level of soccer has proven elusive for Hull City when they’ve earned their way into the Premier League. The 2017 campaign proved no different, and the Tigers’ final chance to save themselves was never in doubt.
Andrea Ranocchia’s failed clearance gave Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha an easy goal in the third minute, and the Tigers never recovered from having to play from behind the eight ball from almost the beginning. Christian Benteke’s goal in the 34th minute effectively put both the match and Hull City’s season to bed, as Palace rolled to a 4-0 thrashing of Hull that both confirmed their own safety and condemned the Tigers to a return to the Championship in August. With 34 points, Hull is four points behind 17th-place Swansea City with one match left, confirming their relegation.
Relegation is a familiar thing for Hull, which has never finished higher than 16th in the Premier League. The Tigers have never lasted longer than two seasons in England’s top flight, having been relegated in both 2010 and 2015. However, this marked the first time for Hull City that it has gone straight back down the year after being promoted. A year ago, Hull came up via the playoffs, but this season never saw the Tigers develop any consistency.
After winning its first two matches, including a 2-1 win over title holders Leicester City, Hull failed to get a result in consecutive matches again until April. A wretched 18-match stretch following that start saw Hull gain just seven points and included losses to fellow relegated sides Sunderland and Middlesbrough, putting them in a deep hole. Hull managed to get themselves off the canvas with the appointment of Marco Silva as manager, but the turnaround ultimately ran out of steam at the end.
With 33 points to their name and a chance to survive, Hull City failed to even score in its final three relevant matches, including a 2-0 home defeat to an already-doomed Sunderland last week, setting itself up for a resurgent Crystal Palace to finish them off.
That was exactly what Sam Allardyce’s men did, as the Eagles won for the eighth time in 15 matches to reach 41 points and confirm their fifth consecutive season in the top flight. Palace picked up 25 of its 41 points since the December appointment of “Big Sam”, who told Sky Sports that rescuing the Eagles was his toughest challenge yet.
While Allardyce and his side will continue in the Premier League, Hull prepares for another return to the second division of English football. One burning question will be whether they will bring Silva with them as they attempt to secure a return to the Premier League for the fourth time.
The BBC has reported that Silva has been linked to ninth-place Southampton if and when they remove manager Claude Puel, which would leave Hull searching for a boss that understands how to navigate the Championship, notoriously one of the toughest second divisions in the world. Silva has further told the BBC that he expects to discuss his position with his current bosses at Hull City following the Tigers’ relegation.
Readers, what do you think Hull will do in the Championship next year? Are you impressed with Crystal Palace’s survival? Are you surprised that the Tigers went out so meekly? Sound off in the comments and like and share this story!
Commentary by Dan Angell
Photo by dom fellowes – Creative Commons License