When Marco Silva was appointed as Hull City manager, it’s fair to say a few eyebrows were raised in the English game. An unknown quantity taking the tricky reigns in the West Yorkshire City was questioned by many fans and pundits alike.
There was trepidation and an air of resignation lingering in the streets as Hull kicked off the 2016/17 campaign in the Premier League with only 14 fit senior players and a manager known for being the puppet of a previous great.
Perhaps miraculously, The Tigers won their opening two games. Sadly, this was simply a honeymoon period for Mike Phelan, as the rookie manager became distanced and looked increasingly out of his depth. A loss to Phelan’s old employers, Manchester United, started what was to be an eight game winless streak.
Hull were doomed. On the ball, panicked and uncreative. Off it, defensively fragile and constantly shipping goals, a 6-1 defeat to Bournemouth highlights Hull’s defensive instabilities.
On the 3rd January 2017, Phelan was sacked following three hard months in management. The job was seemingly too big for an albeit experienced coach. Hull needed an alternative approach. A man with talent and thorough footballing knowledge. The usual suspects of Gary Rowett, Gary Neville and Alan Pardew were consequently linked with the role.
Only two days later, The Tigers announced their new manager. Not an English journeyman, but a Greek Superliga champion. West Yorkshire was introduced to Marco Silva, the man given an impossible role. The former Olympiakos boss was tasked with keeping Hull in the top flight of English football. A remit that looked impossible.
Pundits were incensed. Paul Merson described the appointment as a ‘complete disgrace’. Marco Silva wasn’t on any betting list following the dismissal of Phelan, but Hull had taken a gamble in appointing Phelan, promoting him from assistant to Steve Bruce to the top dog. In Silva, Hull had jumped even further.
But Marco Silva wasn’t a nobody. This is a man who led Olympiakos to Greek Superliga success. A man who has won the Portuguese Cup with Sporting Lisbon. Silva is cultured if nothing else, but nothing would prepare him for the challenge of keeping Hull City in the Premier League.
Hull legend Ian Ashbee called it a poison chalice. Silva was walking into a club in turmoil with conflict between boardroom and terrace. Silva quickly signed eight first team players who have arguably transformed The Tigers from relegation certainties to survival hopefuls.
Under Phelan, Hull were conceding over two goals a game, on the contrast, under Silva, this has reduced to 1.7. For a team fighting for their life, this is the difference between no points and one point. Hull have also scored more goals. Oumar Niasse, a man firmly in the shadows in Merseyside has contributed pace on the counter attack and contributed goals. On average, Hull now scores 1.29 goals a game. Quite an increase from Phelan’s record boasting a 1.17 goals per game ratio.
Fine margins can determine whether you survive in the Premier League. Silva is still unbeaten at the KCOM Stadium, a remarkable statistic for a manager eight home games into his reign. If survival is achieved, surely, Silva has to be on the list as the potential manager of the season.
Hull were relegated in the eyes of many people. A managerial appointment later and they are considered having a slither to survive and currently sit outside of the relegation places by two points. If anybody can keep Hull City up, it’s Marco Silva. The Greek champion who is becoming Hull City’s miracle.