EFL pundit Andy Hinchcliffe believes that Hull City’s clash with Charlton Athletic on Saturday will be a difficult one to play in for the Hull players.
The Tigers will entertain the Addicks at the KCOM Stadium with the two teams separated by just two points. Hull currently have an advantage over Lee Bowyer’s men but come Saturday evening, that could well be a different story.
The game has been labelled as a relegation six-pointer by those in the press as one of these sides could cause a dent in the other’s survival prospects.
EFL expert Andy Hinchcliffe believes the pressure is going to be enormous on the players on the pitch, he told Sky Sports’ EFL Podcast: “I really wouldn’t want to play in that game. I have been in a couple of relegation battles myself, and I tell you, they are horrendous because we always talk about the pressure of gaining promotion but the fear of getting relegated is horrendous.
“Even though fans will say that it’s just another game, it isn’t. It’s about controlling the fear because you do go into the game with fear and it’s about trying to remain positive.
“Coaches can talk a good game, but ultimately it’s about the players going out there and doing the job. Psychologically, the strain for a footballer is probably at its greatest when you’re in a relegation battle and fighting for your life.”
The game will undoubtedly have a huge say in which of these clubs will be remaining in the Sky Bet Championship next season. Hull will want to avoid slipping into League One for the first time since 2005 whilst Charlton will be looking to not return to the third tier at the first time of asking.
Hinchcliffe continued: “I wouldn’t wish it on any player.
“I’d much rather be in a promotion battle. There is still that element of worry that if you lose the game there is an opportunity with the play-offs to try and put it right. But on the relegation side of things, and for Hull and Charlton, it is a test of ability. But more than anything it’s a test of character and mental strength.
“I feel for Hull, I really do. I just think Charlton have got the ability to win games, but Hull are just in free-fall.”
When the sides last met, Hull were able to scramble a point as Jarrod Bowen struck, with Addicks goalkeeper Dillon Phillips then putting through his own net in the 96th minute.
With Bowen no longer playing for the club, it is hard to see where Hull’s goals in this clash will come from.
Hinchcliffe has this spot on. Charlton have that cutting edge to finish teams off as well as put their bodies on the line to ensure they get three points and, at the minute, Hull don’t have that. Those Hull players must have forgotten how to win a game with their last victory coming all the way back on New Year’s Day.
These games down the bottom of the table put so much pressure on the players. Not only do they not want to put a relegation on their CV, but there is so much expectation on them. That can often be what makes a side good enough or not.
At the moment Hull appear to be crumbling under the pressure that has seen them slide down to near the foot of the Sky Bet Championship table.