View from the opposition: From Russia with love – but Leonid looks a little lost here

Leonid Slutsky - popular with Hull fans, but finding it difficult to adapt to the Championship. Pict

Leonid Slutsky - popular with Hull fans, but finding it difficult to adapt to the Championship. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The international break is over and Hull City are the visitors to Carrow Road this afternoon – we asked Tigers’ fan Darron McLoughlin, for his thoughts on the game.

Hull City's rising star, Jarrod Bowen, right, battling with Derby's Bradley Johnson. Picture: PA

Hull City's rising star, Jarrod Bowen, right, battling with Derby's Bradley Johnson. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

So, how’s it been for you so far?

You could say it’s been a slow start, not helped by the exodus of most of the Premier League squad before the season began, along with the previous manager and all his backroom staff. So, in came the players who weren’t good enough for the Premier League first team last year, added to those a few loan players who aren’t yet good enough to start for their parent clubs, then we are making up the numbers with the development team youngsters. In our first few games, we had a promising start at Villa (we didn’t lose, and could have won), but then lost to Wolves and a very poor QPR. We also managed to beat Burton 4-1, and Bolton 4-0 – a real mixed bag. Straight after the Bolton game came the first international break, so hopes were high our new players would have a bit more time to work with the coaches, and that some of the injured players would recover in time for the next game. Onwards and upwards we thought. The only note of caution was that the game was going to be on Sky, and we never seem to be at our best on the telly... 5-0 to Derby. It was then another four games of misery, with draws that could have been defeats, and defeats that could have been hammerings, before thankfully, Birmingham came along!

Is Leonid Slutsky the right man for the job?

Like all new managers, only time will tell. He’s certainly got a reasonable CV from his time in Russia with their national side, and CSKA Moscow. He’s a Champions League manager, so he’s very worthy of a place at Hull City’s table. Unfortunately for us though, he also seems a little lost in the Championship tactically, and even he admits he doesn’t really know what system to play, which doesn’t fill you with much confidence. That said, he’s really got the fans behind him. The majority see that he’s a hard worker, and that he passionately wants to do well in Hull. He’s also pretty eccentric – keep your eye on him pacing up and down on the touchline, he must walk 20 miles in a match! He looks as though he’s going to pass out with stress at any moment!

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Did the 6-1 hammering of Birmingham last time out paper over some cracks?

Not really: nobody was really fooled. We were definitely worth a win, with all six goals coming from open play, but most fans in the stadium would say Birmingham were one of the poorest teams we’ve seen at the KCOM for years. Thankfully, Birmingham didn’t have any options up front (or anywhere else for that matter) which in turn didn’t give our defence anything to defend. We still managed to give them a goal though, with Dawson deflecting a shot into his own goal near the end. We just cannot keep a clean sheet. What the Birmingham result has done, though, is give everyone a little belief that we can put in a good performance now and then. We’ll certainly lose more games, but there’s also a chance that we can put a run together, if we can win away.

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Do you think Hull can get that first away win today?

It’s over a year since we won away, so it’s got to happen at some point. We’ve been close a few times, but we don’t seem able to hold on to a lead away from home. The last 10 minutes of play seems to be our Achilles heel on our travels, so don’t the leave the match early. It’s going to come eventually, and that just might turn the tide for us, but Carrow Road is a tough ground to visit, so I don’t think it’s going to happen this week.

Who should City fans look out for in the Hull team?

On his day, Kamil Grosicki is one of the best wide players you are likely to see in the Championship, but when he’s not feeling like it, then you just wouldn’t know he was on the pitch. Many fans think he’s still sulking after not getting a move away with the rest of the star players in the summer, and there’s probably something in that. Player of the season so far has to be Jarrod Bowen. He’s been a real find for us – he came in to the first team from the development squad towards the end of last season, and he’s carried his form into this season. With six goals to his name already, he’s going to be a key player for us this year. Another one to watch is the youngster Ola Aina, an attacking defender on loan from Chelsea.

Likewise, who do you consider Norwich City’s dangermen?

With our defence, all of them!

And a prediction?

I do hope I’m wrong, but I really can’t see us keeping a clean sheet, so 1-1.

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