Need to know: Hull
LONDON (AP) — Five things to know about Hull going into the 2013-14 English Premier League season:
SURVIVAL IS ESSENTIAL
Hull has an experienced manager in Steve Bruce, who has been in charge of teams in the Premier League before with Birmingham, Wigan and Sunderland. His experience could be essential to promoted Hull’s chances of going straight back down and, come the end of the season, it might be the difference between Hull finishing 17th or 18th.
The biggest signing for Hull during the offseason was Tom Huddlestone from Tottenham. The defensive midfielder joined on a three-year contract and can offer international experience, with four England caps, as well as Premier League know-how. Despite favoring defensive responsibilities, Huddlestone will be hoping to score early in his Hull career. For a charity bet he said he wouldn’t cut his hair until he scored a goal. Young attacking midfielder Jake Livermore also joined on a season-loan from Tottenham and will hope regular football can speed his development. Egypt international Ahmed Elmohammedy switched from Sunderland and Maynor Figueroa signed from Wigan on a free transfer after his contract expired.
KEY MAN: DANNY GRAHAM
Signed from Sunderland on loan, Danny Graham may prove to be an inspired acquisition by Bruce. Graham scored 14 goals in the 2011-12 Premier League season for Swansea but when manager Brendan Rodgers left to take over Liverpool and Michael Laudrup replaced him, Graham found his opportunities limited. He transferred to Sunderland in January for 5 million pounds ($7.9 million) but didn’t impress new manager Paolo Di Canio. If he rediscovers his scoring touch at Hull, it will be a huge boost to the club’s chances of staying up.
The full name of the club has been changed by Egyptian owner Assem Allam from Hull City AFC (Association Football Club) to Hull City Tigers. Looking ahead at how Hull can continue to make money in coming years, Allam felt that changing the name would allow the club to become more marketable overseas. Hull is nicknamed ‘The Tigers’ due to its orange and black striped home shirt.
KEY FIXTURES BETWEEN SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER
The nine league games Hull plays from the start of September until the end of November include five home games against Cardiff, West Ham, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Crystal Palace, alongside an away trip to Southampton. Aside from Cardiff and Crystal Palace, who were promoted with Hull, the other opponents all finished around the lower half of the table last season and Hull will view them as teams to take points from. Failure to do so would see them struggling very early in the season.