From The Other Side - Hull City
Saturday sees the return of Championship football to Portman Road for the first time this season as Ipswich Town host Hull City. Ahead of the match, we contacted our colleagues at Vital Hull to get their views on the match as well as what the year ahead might hold for the two clubs. So, in our first instalment of From The Other Side for the 2011/12 season, here's what they had to say:
Vital Ipswich: So the 2011/12 campaign is finally under way. What did Hull City fans make of last season?
Vital Hull: The season started poorly as we could not recover after relegation from the Premier League. Gradually Nigel Pearson made us into a difficult team to beat as he brought in his own players, and we started to climb the league. After a strong season away from home, we flirted with the idea of the playoffs but eventually fell short due to poor home form.
Vital Ipswich: Hmm - yes, I heard about the lack of goals in particular at the KC last season. Have City been busy in the transfer market this summer? Who have you brought in so far, and how do you feel they will perform?
Vital Hull: We've brought in seven players, bringing in a mixture of experience and youth. Paul McKenna and Dele Adebola bring the experience to the team, with Adebola providing a physical presence that was lacking last season. Youth has come in the form of left-back Joe Dudgeon and exciting loanee Robbie Brady.
Vital Ipswich: On the other hand, who have you lost this summer?
Vital Hull: Anthony Gerrard was only on loan last season but his return to Cardiff City left a space in the defence that hasn't been adequately filled. Jack Hobbs was brought in but I would personally have preferred Gardner to have been brought in permanently.
Vital Ipswich: What do you think of Nigel Pearson as manager? Are you confident that he is taking the club forward, and what do you think of the squad he has put together since he arrived?
Vital Hull: Nigel Pearson has finally made the squad his own with all players we used against Blackpool being signings he has made. The result may not have gone to plan but there are positive signs. Pearson has slowly turned the team around into one that is difficult to beat but concerns persist regarding our creativity in midfield and scoring prowess up-front.
Vital Ipswich: How did your pre-season campaign go, and do you think you are adequately prepared for this season? I heard something about a win over Liverpool...
Vital Hull: We had a 100% record in pre-season from five fixtures, including an impressive 3-0 win over Liverpool. While that performance gave encouraging signs, we have shown pre-season means little by losing our first two fixtures of 2011/12 without scoring a goal.
Vital Ipswich: Heh! Comes as a bit of an anti-climax, doesn't it? I watched you getting off to that less than ideal start against Blackpool last week. What are Hull City fans now expecting from this season, and is promotion a realistic ambition for the club this year?
Vital Hull: The league is very competitive this season and I would be happy with a playoff spot. However, so would another fifteen teams and I feel another top half finish may be in the offing before we consider a promotion push next year.
Vital Ipswich: Same story for us, I fear! I don't know whether you're remotely interested in matters in East Anglia, but do you have any views on what has been going on at Ipswich Town over the past year? What do you think we might achieve this season?
Vital Hull: I've seen glimpses and you appear to have acquired some solid Championship performers such as Michael Chopra (as he proved at Bristol City). Paul Jewell seems to have built a good squad and I believe Ipswich Town will be a top half side with a chance of finising in a playoff position.
Vital Ipswich: Onto Saturday's match then - who do you think will be your key men for this game?
Vital Hull: Tom Cairney needs to be our creative spark in the middle of the park and start to find the form he showed in the Premier League. Matty Fryatt has been disappointing in attack this season and needs a goal to get his season up and running.
Vital Ipswich: From what I've seen of Fryatt, he needs to stay onside more often as well! So what about the Ipswich team - anybody got you worried for Saturday?
Vital Hull: Chopra will be a threat to any side in this league - keep him quiet and we may stand a chance.
Vital Ipswich: You might need to keep him quiet, we just need to keep him fit!! Neck on the line time then - what's your score prediction, and where do you think each team will finish this season?
Vital Hull: Hopefully our away form from last season will be replicated in 2011/12. I would take a point before the game but feel we need a win to kick-start the season. My prediction is 1-1. As for final league positions: Ipswich 8th, Hull City 10th.
Our thanks go to Vital Hull for taking part in this interview. Here's looking forward to what will hopefully be a good game at Portman Road on Saturday!
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