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City Press Conference: Positive start from Nigel Adkins

The contrast was inescapable . . . Hull City’s newly-appointed manager Nigel Adkins (pictured) breezed into his first press conference late yesterday afternoon full of positivity and enthusiasm. The body language was unmistakable; he was feeling good about life, writes Roy Woodcock.

Contrast that with five days ago and the sorry figure of predecessor Leonid Slutsky, seemingly wishing he was anywhere than trying to explain why his team had chalked up seven matches without a win. At times, in the previous few weeks, he seemed to be inviting the sack, which inevitably came.

Adkins appeared cool, calm and collected, And, oh yes, realistic, too

He admitted the club was in a relegation battle. “There’s going to be a nervousness about us and that will take time to change, but we need to get organised on the training ground,” he told a packed press room.

He said his 18 months out of football since being sacked by Sheffield United had allowed him to reassess his approach, watch a lot of football and have the luxury to decide on when the time was right to return. That time was now, he said.

“Hull City is a good football club and already I can see there are good people here. The supporters are passionate, we are where we are now, there’s been a change but you can’t wave a wand and it happens overnight,” he said.

He said it hadn’t taken him long to make up his mind when he took the call from Ehab Allam earlier this week but revealed it wasn’t the first time he had been approached; being offered what amounted to a Director of Football position while City were fighting for their Premier League lives last season.

He said he didn’t rule out that sort of role in the future but at the moment he still wanted the challenge of being a coach or manager and felt, in managerial terms, he was still a young man with a lot to offer. He wanted, he said, another crack at the Premiership and felt Hull City was the right club to give him that chance.

“Hull City is a big club; they’ve been there, Premier League, FA Cup final, European football and it’s a great stadium,” he said.

“We score a lot of goals and that is a positive that needs accentuating, but we have conceded too many goals and we have to address that collectively. We need everybody pulling in the same direction because we all want the same thing – for Hull City to be challenging at the top end.”

Throughout an impressive 40 minutes, during which time he didn’t shirk any questions, he resorted to football cliches only once,  when he said for the rest of the season it was a case of taking “one game at a time”. It would be tough, but, he implied, if the results went with the club then who knows . . .

He said he was aware of the fans unrest but pleaded with everyone to come together for the good of the club. “We want to reach the heights of being back in the Premier League. We’ve given ourselves an uphill task this season but that’s not to say it’s impossible.”

Referring only to the club as Hull City, he said: “Everybody wants the club to do well. I know the supporters want to see good football . . . it’s their football club, when I’m gone, when the players are gone, when the owners’ have gone Hull City Football Club will still be here and the Hull City fans will still support Hull City football club.”

He made no rash promises about the January transfer window and said he had neither asked for or been given guarantees in that respect. He wasn’t ruling out signings or departures but said he felt there was a good squad of players at the club and it was all about keeping them fit and getting the best out of them.”

Brentford on Saturday would be a tough game, he said, with more tough games to come but he pledged they would be working hard on the training ground to ensure players had a clear understanding of what is required.

A tongue in cheek reference to what football is all about  – “putting them in  at one end and keeping them out at the other” he told us at one point – identified City’s biggest problem of late, of conceding too many goals and too many late goals. And it really is as simple as that.

Adkins seemed happy to be back on Humberside, recognising reporters in the room from his 14-year period at Scunthorpe United and addressing them on first name terms. It was a refreshing first experience of Nigel Adkins as Hull City’s manager. His smile and positivity was refreshing and, yes, he had us all believing that things really only can get better