Down by Christmas: Can Hull City Escape Premier League Relegation?
January 06, 2017
Hull City’s time in the top-flight of English football is swiftly evaporating following a fruitless festive period which has seen them take just one point from a possible nine. Despite holding their own for 73 minutes on Boxing Day, the Tigers crumbled late on at home to Manchester City and then failed to capitalise on several promising situations against Everton and West Bromwich Albion respectively.
Despite winning just once since August, last year’s play-off winners are just three points below the 17th place safety line currently occupied by Crystal Palace. This ghastly run of form has forced a change in managerial personnel with former Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos boss Marco Silva appointed to replace the sacked Mike Phelan in an attempt to transform the fortunes of the Premier League’s basement club.
Can the second youngest manager in the division lift his players and break the hoodoo of clubs who are bottom of the league at Christmas? The omens aren’t looking good if we trawl through the history books to discover the fate of those firmly rooted to the foot of the table on December 25th. Since the inception of the Premier League just three teams in Hull’s predicament have pulled off the great escape, but recent survival heroics illustrates that there are ways of getting out of the mire.
Last year’s bottom club Aston Villa always looked destined for Championship football following their shambolic campaign which concluded in the Villains dropping out of the elite band of Premier League ever-presents and succumbing to their drop. This embarrassing debacle was epitomised by their pitiful accumulation of just seven points going into the Boxing Day fixtures – six less than Hull have accrued so far.
Prior to Villa’s downfall, Sunderland and most recently Leicester City broke the spell of Christmas day relegation as they both dodged the trapdoor in astounding circumstances.
The Black Cats sat bottom with just ten points, but Gus Poyet inspired his side to a stunning finish to the season by notching up four consecutive wins, including victories against Chelsea and Manchester United. They finished in 14th place with a total of 38 points.
Twelve months on, it was Leicester’s turn to tear up the record books in an evasive feat that remains unrivalled. Like Sunderland, the Foxes were staring at life in the Championship having amassed a paltry ten points going into the Boxing Day fixtures. A remarkable run of form saw them pick up 19 points from the last 24 available and retain their Premier League status with a game to spare as they finished on 41 points.
The final exception to the rule was West Brom in the 2004-05 campaign who gathered 24 points from their final 19 games and despite propping up the rest going into the final day, they miraculously leapfrogged Crystal Palace, Southampton and Norwich to finish one place above the drop zone.
To their credit, the Tigers already have more points on the board than any of the three teams that have avoided the ‘Curse of Christmas’ did at this stage. However, history shows that the Tigers have a 12.5 per cent chance of plying their trade with the cream of the crop next year.
It may be all doom and gloom around the KCOM Stadium at present, but if they can keep within touching distance of the rest of the pack, then anything is possible as evidenced by West Brom’s last-ditch turnaround.
Where there is hope, there are dreams, but Hull’s best Houdini impression needs to start sooner rather than later.