People love an underdog.
In the English Premier League, where the Big Four dominate and the middle of the pack beats itself up for most of the year, you can occasionally find one overachieving club to win over fans and knock off the big boys in surprising fashion. This year, that team is Hull City.
The newly-promoted club has been the talk of the season, standing at third place in the EPL with recent wins over Arsenal and Tottenham.
Can Hull keep working that magic? Also, on the other end of the spectrum, can Tottenham really stay bottom of the table bad?
SBI EPL correspondent James Tyler of The Unprofessional Foul takes a closer look at Hull’s amazing start, as well as Tottenham’s awful start.
Hull of a start for EPL newcomers
By JAMES TYLER
I’m going to say it, despite the inherent killjoy within: Hull will finish in the bottom 7 when this is all said and done. I mean, their performances through 7 games are nothing short of remarkable, but the wheels have to fall off sometime, don’t they? Or do they?
Spurs aren’t exactly the Top 8 juggernaut they’re capable of being these days, but still; Hull’s win, thanks to another wonderful goal by Geovanni, was fully deserved, and now they’re sitting 3rd in the table. It’s insane, really, the stuff of Disney movies and Tony Robbins seminars: the little minnows, up in football’s top flight for the first time in their history, scoring goals and beating teams they have no business beating. Hull in 3rd after 104 years of footballing mediocrity, and Spurs at the very bottom with their worst start to a season since 1912.
It’s an interesting flip-flop of fortunes, as normally these plucky Colaship outfits are promoted only to serve as chum and 6-point fodder for those teams making a run at European qualification. While Stoke are currently fulfilling that role perfectly despite the long-throw menace of Rory Delap (seriously… they’ve scored I think 5 goals this season directly from Delap long throws) and WBA are hovering mid-table, surely to join the Potters in the basement by Christmas, Hull are defying the stereotype, and comfortably too. Their football has a flow to it, something unseen from the newly-promoted; normally, those sides sit 10 behind-the-ball and 6-in-the-box to choke the game to a stalemate, but Hull play the kind of expansive, attacking football that Spurs, with all their flashy new players, should really be playing instead.
Instead, Spurs look nervous, unsure of themselves, and a lot of that has to do with players constantly finding themselves playing out-of-position. The strike partnership hasn’t gelled by any means, and the midfield, something Spurs fans were praising in the summer, just hasn’t been able to assert themselves for a full 90 minutes. They’re advancing slowly in the UEFA Cup, but with only 2 points from 7 league matches thus far, the heat is building at White Hart Lane.
At KC Stadium, Hull fans have witnessed the dizzying highs and had a glimpse of the scary future that could well await them in the coming months; what other teams can you think of that lost 5-0 at home to Wigan, and then took 7 points in September from away wins at Newcastle and Arsenal, and a 2-2 draw with Everton where they were up 2-0 at halftime? For my money, the veneer has to crack eventually, although I’m taking nothing away from their achievements thus far. If they’re still in the top half by Christmas, I might drink the Kool Aid.
As for Spurs, they just can’t beg, borrow or steal a win to save their lives (or, more importantly, Juande’s job). 4 goals in 7 matches, one of them an own goal, two simple home defeats and only one bright spot, an away draw at Stamford Bridge, to keep fans optimistic. Considering what happened to Martin Jol after a less-disappointing start last season, you expect Ramos to get axed shortly. Whatever they do, firing Juande is not the answer, but Ramos needs to find a way to win back the dressing room and get some confidence into his side. Picking lineups that make sense would be the first step on this long and difficult road.
For both teams, time is on their side to a degree. With 31 matches still remaining, any outcome is possible, although I do think this flip-flop will reverse sometime in the New Year. Hull can’t keep winning, can they? Spurs can’t keep losing, can they?
(of course I have to fit Liverpool in somewhere: they’ll be in the EPL title mix this season. 3-2 away to Man City from 2-0 down… it’s the stuff of champions)