Wednesday February 1st 20.00 GMT
For those of you of who are thinking – hang on, haven’t these teams just played each other? – relax, your mind is not playing tricks on you. They have indeed already played twice this year in the two legs of the League Cup semi-final. Manchester United went through on account of goals scored even though each team won their home leg. Or did they? Jose Mourinho, perhaps emboldened by the Trump administration, decided that they hadn’t actually lost 2-1 to Hull in the second of the two legs. In defiance of the actual result, Mourinho employed his own take on ‘alternative facts’ and claimed that it was in fact a 1-1 draw. Okay…
Luck is not on Hull’s side
Even though Hull deservedly won that match (honestly, check it out yourself), January has not been a good month for them. They managed three wins from seven matches across all competitions but, due to sales and injuries, have lost Robert Snodgrass, Jake Livermore, Ryan Mason and Will Keane. All were/are considered first team players so to lose them all when their squad lacks so much in depth is a grievous blow to their hopes of BPL survival. It is a cruel irony that just as their performances are getting better, their chances of staying up are going down.
Chasing the leading pack
Utd overcame their loss to Hull with a restorative 4-1 romp against Wigan in the F.A. Cup but that has been their only victory in their last four matches. The two league matches which preceded the loss at Hull saw them draw twice, dropping four points along the way. At the time of writing, they are in 6th place and 14 points off table-topping Chelsea. It is probably safe to say that any thoughts of winning the league should be reasonably put aside for this season but anything less than a top 4 finish would be considered a failure on the part of the club hierarchy. Mourinho needs to make sure that his team keeps the pressure on those teams above them otherwise it will be two poor seasons in a row for the erstwhile special one.
What does he know about the BPL? He’s foreign!
As noted above, Hull have been impressive of late and in Marco Silva they appear to have a manager who is capable of getting the best from what is becoming an increasingly denuded squad. Not that you would have thought that when pundits cum mouth-breathers like Paul Merson went all ‘little England’ when decrying his appointment. I mean, what could a 39 year old man who, in addition to a 15 year playing career, has already won Manager of the Year in Portugal, won a cup competition in the same country and who won the domestic league in Greece as well as beating Arsenal in the Champion League with Olympiacos really know about football? Madness…
For all that he was an astute signing as coach, a decision quite at odds with many which emanate from powers that be at Hull, there is probably little he can do to effect more than a spirited fight against Utd, the most expensively assembled team in the world. His midfield and defence are missing key players and they are simply not scoring enough goals. It might not be the prettiest of games but Utd really should be winning it. The best price for a home win is a predictably short 1/5 from Bet365 amongst others. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, the draw is available for around 7/1 whilst a Hull win can be got at 19/1.