The 2018/19 Championship season was a rollercoaster ride for the Tigers, and from start to finish there was always something to talk about, whether that be on or off the field.
Nigel Adkins managed to bring hope and desire back to the city of Hull, and although the season ended with an underwhelming mid-table finish, there were certainly points throughout the campaign where some fans will have thought that stealing a play-off spot was a real possibility.
The season began with an away defeat to Aston Villa, which will have led some of the Tigers’ faithful to believe that the club were in for another long and painful season battling for Championship survival. In fact, the Tigers only managed two victories in the first seven games of the 18/19 Championship season, through an away victory at Rotherham, and a home win against Ipswich, both who were eventually relegated down to League One come the end of the season. Arguably, this didn’t put the club in a great position, and the word ‘relegation’ was being regularly circulated around the KCOM, as fans feared the worst after what can only be described as a dreadful opening to the season.
In City’s next ten fixtures, there were only two more victories picked up, along with three draws to bolster the Tigers’ overall points tally a little bit. Adkins led the lads to an away victory at the Macron Stadium, defeating Bolton Wanderers 1-0 away from home. The following week, the Tigers came back home, to the KCOM Stadium, and turned over a tough West Brom side, climbing to an eventual 1-0 victory. West Brom eventually went on to reach the play-offs and will be battling for a place back in the Premier League in the coming weeks, so looking back on this result, it seems even more impressive than it did at the time.
At this stage, it seemed like Hull City would once again be fighting until the final day to secure their Championship status. In all honesty, the atmosphere around the club wasn’t too brilliant, especially considering everything going on behind the scenes with the ownership of the club too. However, the winter months seemed to be a real turning point at the club, and it’s doubtful that many fans, or Nigel Adkins for that matter, could’ve predicted the run of form which came next.
On the 1st December 2018, the Tigers travelled down to London to face QPR, and brought all three points back to Hull after an impressive 3-2 victory away from home. This result was closely followed by a seriously impressive, and probably unexpected run of results over the Christmas period, which ultimately set the tone of the club for the rest of the season.
On the 15th December, the Tigers defeated Brentford 2-0 at the KCOM, and this victory was followed by a further four league victories in a row. This meant that Adkins’ side had won 16 points out of a possible 18 in December, which effectively dragged the club out of the relegation places, and into a more comfortable league position. However, the most memorable victory amongst the December wins came at Elland Road, as the Tigers turned over local rivals Leeds United in a 2-0 away win, with both goals coming from City’s star man Jarrod Bowen, who had an unbelievable month individually too.
Although this period was by far the best run of form that City went on throughout the whole season, the Tigers didn’t exactly give up after this, in fact Adkins’ side went on to defeat old foes Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 at home half way through January, which gave fans a real sense of hope going into the back end of the season.
Coming into the back end of March 2019, the Tigers were believing again that reaching a promotion spot was a serious possibility, but lots of luck would have had to go in the favour of Adkins and his players. Hull City managed three straight victories against Ipswich, Reading and Wigan, which was another kick up the back side in the direction of a Championship promotion spot.
Unfortunately for the Tigers faithful and the players respectively, this would be the last time that the club would register a league win for the 18/19 season. This string of impressive results followed three straight losses at the hands of Middlesbrough, West Brom and Sheffield United, which effectively marked the end of City’s season and promotion chase.
The season concluded with a home draw to Bristol City, and the Tigers finished the campaign mid-table, in 13th position.
Arguably, the final ending to the season didn’t tell the full story, or really show the amount of belief that was restored in this club, especially for the fans. In comparison to last season, there was so much more to be proud of, in terms of the way that the players performed, the ways in which the staff brought hope back to the fans through positive results, and through retaining players who are loved by the fans.
Hopefully, this season will be built upon again in the upcoming campaign, and the eventual league position will continue to improve.
All in all, it’s been a great season, and the club have done so much better than anybody thought after being backed to be relegated at the start of the season.
So, it’ll be another season in the Championship next year, and hopefully another season under the optimistic, positive attitude of Nigel Adkins.
[Alex Thurston – @althurstonsport]
This article was commissioned with support from H.I.T. Patrons