Meet the opposition | Hull City
As Swansea City prepare to head to Hull on Friday, we take a closer look at the Tigers.
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’s their form?
Heading in the wrong direction. The Tigers have lost five of their last six games in all competitions, taking just one point from a possible 15 in the league during that sequence.
To put it in context, those games included meetings with Chelsea in the FA Cup, plus league defeats to in-form Derby, Fulham and Brentford.
Nevertheless, it is a run that has seen the Tigers fall 10 points behind the play-off place and they have not been helped by a number of injuries.
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 had once again been topping Hull’s goalscoring charts this season, but the 17-goal forward departed on deadline day to Premier League West Ham.
The Tigers also lost Kamil Grosicki (seven goals and five assists) to West Brom during the January window.
Tom Eaves – signed after leaving Gillingham last summer – has also netted seven goals, while Josh Magennis has chipped in with four.
Jackson Irvine brings a bite and urgency to their midfield, while at the back they have the experience of Eric Lichaj - who has unfortunately been ruled out for the rest of the season - while Reece Burke has been a linchpin in defence.