Matthew Crichton: Earlier this year, Hull was bought by Turkish celebrity Acun Ilıcalı, how would you summarise his tenure so far?
Ant Northgraves: It’s certainly been a roller coaster!
He has come in and shown ambition, made the right changes and put the fans that the forefront of every decision he makes. This is obviously a welcome change considering the Allam tenure didn’t put the fans first at all.
He’s invested heavily in the playing squad, reduced ticket prices (for away fans too!), introduced free Memberships for kids and most recently taken 300 fans on a five-star trip to Turkey all expenses paid. He’s helped us feel optimistic again and brought fans back to the Stadium. It’s going very well.
MC: On the pitch, after an excellent start Hull plummeted down the table which led to Shota Arveladze losing his job, what were the main factors behind that?
AN: Well it was an excellent start on paper but performance wise, we were definitely quite fortunate to pick up the results we did. We just happened to have an unusually high conversion rate but signs were there that something wasn’t right.
Under Shota, we looked disorganised and chaotic. We had no identity and the players didn’t look like they knew or understood their role in the side.
Yes, we had a surprisingly high injury list and missed key players such as Allahyar Sayyadmanesh and Benjamin Tetteh but Arveladze didn’t seem to bring this “exciting, attacking football” that we were promised when he replaced Grant McCann back in January.
Results were poor and performances were even worse. We were grim to watch.
MC: The man who replaced him is former-Hull player Liam Rosenior, how was his appointment received amongst the fanbase and how has his tenure begun?
AN: It’s a very popular appointment to say the least; not only for his connection to the club but he is highly respected and thought of amongst the football community and is largely touted to be one of the brightest young Managers in English football.
Wayne Rooney credits a lot of what Derby did well last season to Rosenior’s input alongside him and we’re thrilled to see him start his career here at the MKM Stadium.
He has already shown that we’re going to play a more attractive brand of football, taking risks, playing out from the back and dominating possession so the future looks bright.
MC: Hull signed over 15 new players in the summer, which players have impressed you most and which have been underwhelming?
AN: Well, we’ve not seen all of them play because some signed already injured.
Oscar Estupiñan has got 8 goals and looks to be a crude bit of business if we can start giving him some proper service, Greek International Dimitrios Pelkas has been superb but has just been ruled out for 3 months, Benjamin Tetteh looks to be a very astute bit of business, Jean Michael Seri has looked classy, Ozan Tufan has shown flashes and Ryan Woods has been consistent.
But the pick of the bunch for me is Cyrus Christie who has been phenomenal for us on the right side.
Tobias Figueiredo has been the most disappointing, being nothing short of a travesty for us so far this season, and we’re yet to see what the likes of Salah Oulad M’Hand, Adama Traore and Xavier Simons have to offer.
MC: Your top scorer, Óscar Estupiñán, will return to the Hull side after a three-match ban, what are his key strengths that Sunderland’s defence will have to be wary of?
AN: He’s a real goal poacher. He isn’t going to drop deep and link up play, or score a 30-yard worldie in the top bins but the Colombian is very good at being in the right place at the right time.
I’ve said since we’ve signed him that if he was in a side like Burnley that create a lot of chances every game, he’d be a 25 goal a season striker but he’s been starved of service from us.
Seven of his eight goals came in three games (a hat trick and two braces) but he’s not had a chance to show what he can bring to a Rosenior system as he got a red card in Liam’s first game.
Oscar is very good in the air and likes to press defenders into a mistake so can be a handful for defenders.
MC: 22-year-old Hull defender Jacob Greaves received Premier League interest in the summer, what makes him so effective at this level and how far can you see him going in football?
will be the next big money move from our club to the Premier League if we don’t manage to achieve the new owners dream of being there ourselves in the next few years.
Carrying on the Greaves family legacy as his father Mark also played for us. He is a natural, left-footed centre half that has fantastic passing range and the ability to run with the ball when bringing it out of defence.
This doesn’t make him lightweight however, as he is strong, imposing and isn’t afraid to get stuck in. Recently, Greavesy has been deployed in left back and has looked at home there too.
Similar to how Brighton utilised Dan Burn in a similar fashion, and he has now notched up some assists showing his quality of delivery and also got himself his first Hull City goal.
Greavesy has it all and gives us extra security at set pieces.
MC: One player that is returning to his former ground is Sunderland captain Corry Evans, how would you summarise his time with Hull?
AN: Corry was with us during an interesting time for the club as we looked to recover after falling out of the Premier League for the first time.
We had fallen into financial trouble and new manager at the time, Nigel Pearson, took advantage of our strong connection with former Tiger Warren Joyce who was then at the Man United youth system and brought through Evans, Robbie Brady, James Chester etc.
Evans always did well and was with us for a few years as we returned to the Premier League under Steve Bruce. He looks to have had a steady career as an established Championship midfielder and will always be remembered fondly.
MC: In terms of style and tactical approach, what can Sunderland fans expect from Rosenior’s new-look Hull side?
AN: Our new owner has been very outspoken about wanting the fans to be entertained when watching Hull City.
We didn’t get that under Arveladze, and therefore he needed to make sure the next appointment had that same vision. Liam Rosenior has promised attractive, possession-based football that will value hard work and organisation.
So far, that’s what we’ve seen. Under Rosenior we’ve had one win, two draws and a defeat but have managed two clean sheets which is something we couldn’t do before.
We will look to frustrate Sunderland and pull players out of position, utilising our very technical midfield to string passes together and create space. We do take risks by playing out from the back, and did concede against Cardiff after being pressed into a mistake so there are flaws.
MC: Are any key players missing for Hull and which 11 players do you think Rosenior will select?
AN: We have many key players missing for this game unfortunately and has been the story of our season. Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, Benjamin Tetteh and Dimitrios Pelkas will all be missing and they have been a large part of everything we did well in an attacking sense.
After a very hard-fought point at Vicarage Road, I’d expect the side to be pretty much the same with Ozan Tufan coming in for the injured Pelkas and Estupiñan replacing Tyler Smith up front meaning the side will most likely be:
4-2-3-1: Ingram (GK), Christie, Jones, McLoughlin, Greaves, Seri, Woods, Slater, Tufan, Longman, Estupiñán.
MC: Hull marked the opening of the MKM Stadium with a 1-0 victory over Sunderland, do you think you will beat us again on the ground’s 20th anniversary?
AN: Our home form has been dreadful lately and we were incredibly unlucky to lose against Reading in Rosenior’s first home game so I’m thinking that the stars seem to be aligning for a Hull City win.
20th Anniversary of the Stadium, against the same team we opened against, first home game after the month off etc. It almost feels like the World Cup break was a reset and the season starts now for us so here’s hoping this is where we turn our home form around.
We are expecting a tough game as there are never any easy games in this league, but I’m going to go for a 2-1 Tigers win. But, good luck for the rest of the season afterwards of course!