Hull are back in the big time after a nervy second-place finish in last year’s Championship and while Steve Bruce’s Tigers squad boasts plenty of Premier League experience, they have yet to properly remedy the shortage of quality up front that almost cost them dearly last season.
The 13/20 second favourites to be relegated were challenging eventual champions Cardiff City for the top spot in April, before a miserable run of one point from three games and no goals left them at the mercy of events on the final day, with a 2-2 draw at home to Malky Mackay’s Bluebirds just enough to snatch second spot from the jaws of a Watford side unlucky to capitulate against Leeds.
Significantly, Hull finished the season as the lowest scorers in the top half, with even relegated Peterborough able to best the Yorkshiremen’s 61 strikes and top scorers Robert Koren and George Boyd – neither of whom are actual centre-forwards – couldn’t trouble even the lower regions of the striking charts at nine goals apiece, with only four of Boyd’s goals scored in the Humberside club’s colours following a loan move from Peterborough.
Bruce does have plenty of Premier League experience to call upon in the middle of the park, with David Meyler, Ahmed Elmohamady and the aforementioned Koren all veterans of at least a season of top flight football and the permanent signing of Boyd will add guile to what is a largely combative midfield.
Bruce has also made improvements at the back, with 29-cap Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor brought back to Britain from Besiktas and experienced Premier League campaigners Curtis Davies and Maynor Figueroa snapped up from Birmingham City and Wigan Athletic respectively.
Yannick Sagbo – the 24-year-old picked up from Ligue 1 side FC Evian – had a decent strike rate in France, but only managed six league goals in 23 appearances last year and with misfiring Sunderland loanee Danny Graham the only other addition up front, Bruce has to go back into the market for a striker if Hull are to avoid the drop this season.