Time for Tigers to tear into opposition

Date published: Thursday 28th March 2013 8:52

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Following yet another poor defensive display and the continuing lack of clinical finishing in front of goal, it is evident that Hull City need to find the right balance tactically if they are to maintain their automatic promotion push.

When Steve Bruce introduced his 3-5-2 formation at the beginning of the season, it proved to be a revelation for the Tigers. Three centre-halves, aggressive wing-backs and a cohesive midfield capable of dominating the opposition with their slick brand of passing football.

Recently though, it appears that Bruce has lacked a Plan B when his side come under a substantial amount of pressure. The 3-5-2 system appears to become rigid and susceptible to the counter-attack which has been demonstrated with devastating effect by both Crystal Palace and Bolton.

Following yet another defeat at the hands of a resurgent Nottingham Forest side last time out, questions have surely been raised about Hull’s ability to grind out results when under pressure.

For periods in the second half against Forest, the Tigers looked lethargic. There was a clear lack of urgency in shutting the opposition down; passing was inconsistent and midfielders were slow to track back the opposition.

Hull have shown glimpses of the form that has led them into occupying an automatic promotion position, but these instances tend to be few and far between, while many of their big-game players appear to be lacking in influence.

Captain Robert Koren has been a shadow of his former-self in recent weeks and has often found himself outmuscled in the centre of the park, while the likes of David Meyler, Stephen Quinn and Ahmed Elmohamady, despite being as industrious as ever, are lacking in final product.

Although, with the acquisitions of Egypt international Gedo and George Boyd up front, coupled with news that long-term absentee Matty Fryatt could be making a return to the squad before the end of the season, there is much optimism that the Tigers can break their barren record in front of goal.

However, it seems that Bruce needs to find a tactical Plan B that will give Hull a much-needed confidence boost in their ability to not only take the game by the scruff of the neck, but to be able to soak-up opposition pressure when on the back-foot.

Versatility should not be a problem. City can boast a squad with seasoned internationals and young, exciting prospects showing that they have both the depth and quality to adapt to multiple formations.

The 3-5-2 formation has been effective for them for the majority of this campaign, but as the season takes its toll on the players, it is evident that this high-pressure system is not sustainable for an entire match.

With make-or-break clashes to come against promotion rivals Watford, Middlesbrough and Cardiff, the Tigers cannot afford to risk losing points which could end up costing them their chance of Premier League football next season.

By Joel Sands, FanZone’s Hull City blogger. Follow him on Twitter at @SandsJoel – and don’t forget to follow @FanZone too!

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