Hull City’s relegation fears ramped up another notch at the weekend when they were battered 5-1 away to Stoke City, leaving them just two points outside the bottom three with nine games to play.
The Tigers have not been the same since the turn of the New Year as they battle on with constant injury problems all over the pitch, and without the two players who got them to within inches of the play-offs earlier in the season, Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki.
An outside chance at the top six has been thrown out of the window following a run of 10 games without a league win heading into the weekend. They faced a Stoke City side currently fighting for their lives under Michael O’Neill and eager to get the better of the Tigers to leapfrog them and switch places in the battle to stay out of the relegation zone.
A lightning start from the hosts at the bet365 Stadium saw the Potters take a 3-0 lead inside 18 minutes thanks to goals from Nick Powell, Tyrese Campbell and former Hull man Sam Clucas.
Clucas added a fourth in front of the travelling Hull fans just after the interval, before Leo Da Silva Lopes struck a consolation in the 73rd-minute. Powell added a fifth for the rampant home side to heap the pressure on Grant McCann and his side as we head into the final nine games of the season.
With the Tigers currently sitting just outside the relegation zone, we take a look at three things we learnt from their 5-1 humbling against Stoke…
Full-back tracking isn’t nearly good enough
We saw it last week when Leeds United put four past the Tigers with some very questionable second-half defending from the home side, and it was on show once again but from the outset.
Tommy Smith’s underlapping run caused a lot of problems for Callum Elder which saw him break to the byline and cross to the back post for a completely unmarked Nick Powell to head home, as Robbie McKenzie neglected to track his run and let him open the scoring.
Every chance that Hull conceded came through the channels and the supporting runs caused untold havoc for the Hull defence and led to the fourth and fifth goals as players managed to find space inside the six-yard box for both.
There couldn’t have been much worse done in terms of the defending for all of the goals and it was just another woeful defensive performance.
Da Silva Lopes still impresses
Having signed from Wigan Athletic in the summer, Da Silva Lopes has nailed down his starting berth under Grant McCann and it’s no surprise given how he has been playing.
At just 21-years-old, he’s barely played regularly in the Championship but is showing his quality for the Tigers with some assured performances in and out of possession.
While the overall Hull performance was nothing to be proud of, Da Silva Lopes netted his second goal of the season in the second half as he calmly slotted home from close range to bring the scores back to 4-1.
It can’t be much of a positive for the midfielder as it came in such a tough result, but it has shown that he has the quality to help boost the side in their fight for survival.
Can you name Hull’s top goalscorers in the last 15 seasons?
Relegation is a serious threat now
Having come up against Stoke, the game was teed up for it to be a real relegation six-pointer, especially given the fixtures elsewhere going against them.
Stoke were below Hull heading into the game and the result saw them leapfrog the Tigers and push the away side three places down from 18th to 21st.
With nine games left to play, Hull are yet to face 19th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd in the table, which presents them with the perfect chance to put some distance between themselves and the bottom three. However, should the worst happen and they continue in their current form, they could be falling well into the relegation zone whilst time is running out.