Meet the opposition | Hull City
With Swansea City kicking off the 2019-20 Championship season against Hull on Saturday (3pm), we take a closer look at the men from East Yorkshire.
What's their story?
After being relegated from the Premier League in 2017, the Tigers are starting their third-successive season back in the Championship.
The East Yorkshire club will be hopeful of launching a promotion push having shown themselves adept at plotting a path to the Premier League.
Indeed, Hull have had three stints in the top-flight in the past 11 years, first reaching the Premier League via the play-offs in 2008.
Their Wembley success against Bristol City completed a memorable rise from League Two to the Premier League in just five years. This is still the third-fastest climb through the four divisions, behind only the ‘Crazy Gang’ at Wimbledon and John Toshack’s Swansea City.
Their first spell in the Premier League lasted two seasons with their most recent top-flight campaign seeing them relegated after losing a battle with the Swans to avoid the final drop spot in 2017.
They are yet to win a major trophy but they have come agonisingly close. In 2014, they had a brilliant run to the FA Cup final but were beaten 3-2 by Arsenal, having led the Gunners 2-0. Welshman Aaron Ramsey scoring the decisive winner in extra-time.
How did they do last season?
Hull finished 13th in the second tier last term, three places below the Swans. It proved to be a season of ups and downs, with the undoubted high being an outstanding run of form over the festive period.
Yet they made a dismal start as they won just two out of their first 14 league matches to find themselves scrapping at the wrong end of the table.
This would soon change though, and in spectacular fashion. During December they managed to gather 16 points out of a possible 18, including a 2-0 win over then-leaders Leeds United at Elland Road which ranked among their best performances of the season.
That sequence of results was the Tigers' best in the second tier since the Second World War and it thrust them firmly into play-off contention.
However, the spark would start to fizzle out as struggles on their travels hampered Hull's top-six aspirations, and they would eventually finish in mid-table.
Who's the boss?
Grant McCann. A former midfielder who featured for West Ham, Cheltenham, Scunthorpe and Peterborough, among others, during his playing career. McCann also won 39 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring four goals.
After hanging up his boots, McCann got his first taste of management with his old club Peterborough.
He took over as the caretaker manager twice, before being made permanent manager at the start of the 2016-2017 campaign, remaining at the helm until February 2018.
His services were secured by Doncaster Rovers the following summer, and he had an excellent first season in charge, helping them reach the League One play-offs.
They didn’t achieve promotion but Belfast-born McCann's exploits had attracted a number of admirers and Hull moved to appoint him following the departure of Nigel Adkins.
A disciple of high-energy, front-foot football, McCann - who brought assistant Cliff Byrne with him to Hull from Doncaster - has made clear his desire to play a high-tempo attacking game.
Who are the key men?
Jarrod Bowen was the clear stand-out player for the Tigers last season, scoring 22 goals and supplying four assists. He scored six goals in December alone which led to him winning the Championship player of the month award, and it has been little surprise to see him linked with moves to Premier League clubs over the summer.
Another player with similar importance to McCann's side is Poland international Kamil Grosicki. He had another fine season in Hull colours last term, notching nine goals and 12 assists. He also shone during the festive period helping Hull out of their early relegation fears.
New signing Tom Eaves adds further options in the final third. The 6ft 5in centre-forward scored 21 goals for Gillingham in League One last season, featuring for the Gills in their FA Cup defeat at the Liberty, before signing a three-year contract with Hull following the expiry of his contract.
Goalkeeper George Long broke into the starting XI towards the end of last season, getting the nod over David Marshall, but he faces a fight for his spot after Matt Ingram was brought in from QPR.
Hull have also added lively Everton winger Josh Bowler on loan over the summer, while ex-Swan Stephen Kingsley is also among the Tigers' ranks.