Hull City secured promotion back to the Championship at the first attempt after winning League One last season. The Tigers finished bottom of the second tier in the 2019/20 campaign and there were concerns about whether they would be forced to sell a number of their players amid financial issues. However, Grant McCann galvanised the club and restored their Championship status by finishing top of the third tier.
Josh Magennis, Mallik Wilks and Keane Lewis-Potter rose to the occasion by firing on all cylinders in the final third. The Tigers also boasted the best defence in the division, conceding only 38 goals in their 46 matches. McCann and his team now have the challenge of becoming the first team since Southampton in 2012 to earn back-to-back promotions to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2017. Hull made the perfect start to the season by crushing Preston North End 4-1 on the road, sending out a statement of intent.
The Championship appears to be wide open in the 2021/22 season, despite the quality of the teams that have descended from the top flight. The Tigers are backed at 10/1 to win promotion in the odds on the English Football League Championship, proving that there will be a long road ahead for McCann and his team. Other than Brentford, the teams that won promotion were the sides that were relegated from the Premier League the previous term.
Therefore, Sheffield United, Fulham and West Brom will have a strong say over who wins the race to return to the top flight. It’s not out of the question that the Tigers could mount a challenge as they possess a lot of the key characteristics of a team that has the chance to earn back-to-back promotions.
Wilks could easily be recognised as one of the most talented players in the Championship. At the age of 22, he is in prime stature to take the division by storm as he did in the third tier last season. Wilks not only scored goals but also created eight assists for his teammates in the final third. If the forward can maintain those levels of production, then the Tigers will be well poised for a run at the top six.
Lewis-Potter scored in the opening-day win over Preston, and he has the chance to establish himself in the second tier as a talented winger. The 20-year-old is just scratching the surface of his potential after playing his first full term as a professional. Hull should be very excited about his future, should he continue to produce in the final third at Championship level.
Hull’s backline consists of up-and-coming stars, which could be their Achilles’ heel. Both Jacob Greaves and Alfie Jones have not played a great deal of football and the quality of attacking teams in the Championship will serve as a massive test of their abilities. We have yet to see if they retain composure whilst under pressure.
McCann has thrown the two fledgling players in at the deep end with the lure of a risk-reward strategy. The reward will be cultivating two quality centre-backs that could be the foundation of Hull’s backline for many years to come. Obviously, it could backfire as the two rising players could be exposed, but given that Hull are currently playing with house money, it’s a gamble worth taking this term. The Tigers have a lot of talented fresh blood in their ranks, which was evident in their promotion. McCann will be hoping that they can take the next step in their development to spark an unlikely surge for the Premier League. It should be an exciting term nonetheless at the MKM Stadium.