To celebrate 25 years of the Premier League each week in Football Fancast we’re going to be looking back at a memorable game that took place on the corresponding date. This time out we revisit a club in crisis kicked when they’re down.
Nobody gave Hull City a hope in hell of staying up last season and that was before a single ball had been kicked in earnest.
In the space of a July week, right back Moses Odubajo and club captain Michael Dawson were both ruled out for several months with medial knee injuries and seven days later manager Steve Bruce unexpectedly walked having endured enough toxicity to last him a lifetime. Being deprived of your coach and captain was hardly the best pre-season preparation for a long campaign that was going to be arduous in the best of circumstances and the situation was only exacerbated when Mohamed Diame – arguably Hull’s best player – refused a new contract and signed for Newcastle. This meant the opening game of the season was now on their doorstep and the Tigers had just thirteen senior players available and this after previously allowing Sone Aluko and Ryan Taylor to leave on free transfers. Meanwhile the soap opera behind the scenes rumbled on with takeover talks stalling and their deeply unpopular owner now set to remain in charge.
Caretaker boss Mike Phelan then was not just left holding the baby after Bruce’s sudden departure, the baby needed its nappy changing and was puking like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Two opening wins were a testament to Phelan’s ability to forge spirit through adversity while a fighting display at home to Manchester United and a battling draw at Burnley brought calls for his temporary status to be upgraded to permanent. It was here where the fixture list joined the queue in kicking this great club when it was down with Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea next up in quick succession. Three defeats and an aggregate scoreline of 12-2 had reality crashing in but even so Phelan was given the job. Lucky him.
Hull’s next opponents, on October 15th 2016 were Bournemouth and their season to this point – by comparison at least – had been far more sedate. Early losses to Manchester United and West Ham prompted fears of the dreaded second-season syndrome afflicting a club that had confounded expectation by extending their Premier League adventure beyond a one-year deal but slim victories over West Brom and Everton had steadied the ship. Better yet their new signings were settling in nicely and all was hunky dory on the south coast for Eddie Howe and his troops besides one small snag – they were creating chances by the bucketload but failing to convert them in equal measure. This was becoming a problem and especially so considering the £25m they had spent – a fortune for a club of the Cherries’ standing – in order to avoid such a potential hindrance occurring.
Sometimes a fixture’s importance is only viewed in hindsight and this was one such example. With both sides stationed near the foot of the table the final result had the ability to promote belief in one while tying rocks to the other’s feet. More so a 6-1 victory, where the home side is rampant throughout and finally displaying some ruthlessness while the away team crumble to make it 17 goals conceded in their last four games, well, the game is recent enough to know precisely what an affect this had on both.
Even seeing Ryan Mason level out Charlie Daniels’ early opener didn’t dent Bournemouth’s dominance on this day that had them go into the break 3-1 up and move in for the kill throughout the second period with a second penalty and close-range finishes from Wilson and Gosling. The Tigers were simply mauled to pieces.
“I feel very embarrassed,” Phelan said moments after the final whistle spared his men further humiliation. “I’ve got a team here who show what they can do when they want to. We’ve got to grow up”.
It was in effect Phelan’s first day at the office. Lucky him.
What happened next?
The appointment of Marco Silva in January revived Hull’s fortunes but it was not enough to save them. As many so confidently predicted back in August they were down.
The Cherries enjoyed a largely successful season, ultimately finishing ninth in the Premier League. Their strikers continued to convert their chances.