COMMENTARY | Shortly after securing a second-place finish in the 2012-13 Championship table and automatic promotion to the EPL, Hull City's official website displayed a banner that read: "We Are Premier League."
Outside of East Yorkshire, analysts and pundits are giving the Tigers almost no chance of beating the current odds levied against them to avoid immediate relegation back to the Championship. Within the club and its devoted fanbase, exuberance over returning to the EPL is understandably being tempered with cautious optimism.
To wit, no one is expecting Manchester United to be looking over their shoulder next March at a fast-approaching Hull City threatening to supplant them as league champions. Hull City is and will be the underdogs throughout the upcoming EPL season.
As Curtis Davies succinctly stated in a recent interview with the Hull Daily Mail: "It is a massive challenge for the club, but regardless of your squad, the new boys will always be favorites to go down. It is up to us to change that perception and we will do that through our performances. We will be underdogs in nearly every game, but that can work in your favor."
To his latter point, few outside the Tiger diaspora are giving the club enough credit. According to Fox Sports, "It will take an awful lot to persuade onlookers that they have a decent chance of Premier League survival. Promotion itself was the real achievement."
Inherent in the pervasive underestimation and thinly veiled pity for Hull City is a casual dismissal of the underlying tense hunger and simmering resolve within the club and the community to not be satisfied with promotion, but to emphatically prove that Hull City is, in fact, a Premier League-caliber side.
On the field, Hull City chairman Assem Allam and manager Steve Bruce are well aware of the club's needs in order to compete in and survive the upcoming season and have been busy in the transfer market to strengthen the team accordingly. Most recently, Hull City signed Wigan Athletic defender Maynor Figueroa to a two-year deal; defender Curtis Davies was acquired from Birmingham City with a three-year deal; Hull City recently increased its bid for Celtic striker Gary Hooper to £5 million; and the club is reportedly pursuing the acquisition of winger and Dutch youth system product Nordin Amrabat from Galatasaray.
After the offseason, transfer market maneuvering has subsided and the club's roster has been solidified, manager Steve Bruce will make the necessary preparations to ensure Hull City stays in the EPL.
Confident of Steve Bruce's expertise, Hull City managing director Nick Thompson told the Hull Daily Mail: "Steve Bruce's management 'expertise' can inspire Hull City to upset the odds again in the Premier League. If you go back to the start of last season there was a survey that said 70 percent of fans thought we would finish mid-table. The owners' instructions to Steve, meanwhile, were to get into the playoffs. We've out-performed on both of those expectations and we've done it by using Steve's expertise."
Premier League Spirit
In the club's first three matches of the 2013-14 season, Hull City will face two of the EPL's top clubs away. Sandwiched around their second match at home against Norwich City, the Tigers will face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the season-opening match and Manchester City at Etihad Stadium for their third match.
In anticipation of Chelsea's home opener against Hull City, Blues manager Jose Mourinho acknowledged the Tigers as a tough opponent, but -- perhaps subconsciously -- exemplified the attitude of the pundits and commentators writ large when he intimated that Hull City will bring "Championship spirit" to Chelsea.
It is this underestimation that Curtis Davies insisted can work to Hull City's advantage. Mourinho, Chelsea and the other EPL powerhouses expect Hull City to arrive with a "Championship spirit" in tow. As is abundantly clear in East Yorkshire and across the websites, message boards and fanzines of the Tigers' online diaspora, Hull City is coming with an unmistakable Premier League spirit.
Those who underestimate or dismiss this marked difference, do so at their own peril.
Harold has followed Hull City AFC since its Third Division days of the late-'90s. He has played, coached and been involved with a variety of soccer/football-related interests in the U.S., England, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Portugal, and Italy for nearly three decades.
- Sports & Recreation
- Premier League
- Hull City
- Steve Bruce
- Hull Daily Mail