Johnny Moore asks Barry Cooper from the Hull Daily Mail to run the rule over the Tigers
Q: Despite their blip before Christmas, are Hull confident of securing promotion back to the Championship?
A: I think the response since the Christmas downturn has lifted the mood markedly and while results on the pitch have gained some momentum, it’s the events off the pitch which have given a glimmer of extra hope.
The contract impasse with teenage sensation Keane Lewis-Potter has come to an end, which has lifted a degree of heat on the owners, and he started his first game since November in Tuesday night's emphatic win over Accrington, while the additions of Jordan Flores, Gavin Whyte and Dan Crowley have added strength in depth, but also much-needed quality.
Q: How important is it that Hull secure promotion this season?
A: It's huge – in a myriad of ways. The way in which City capitulated in the second half of last season has left an indelible scar that will take an awfully long time to heal. Only promotion at the first attempt will see Grant McCann go close to winning the backing of those supporters who remain unconvinced by him.
Financially, it’s important as we know and there’s also the risk that the club become marooned in the third tier as we've seen many times before.
Q: Has the acrimonious relationship between fans and owners improved over time?
A: I’m not sure you could say it has improved. I think there remains a deep divide and in the interests of the long-term prospects of the football club, new ownership is what’s needed – I feel there’s an acceptance on both sides of that.
Ultimately, however, we’re in the grip of a worldwide pandemic and buying football clubs is hardly at the top of the agenda for too many, so the reality for Hull City fans is that the Allam family will remain in control for a little while yet.
It’s hard to envisage a time where the relationship between the Allam family and supporters is repaired – I think too much water has passed under the bridge for that to happen. But a return to the Championship this season would go a small way to repairing some of the damage inflicted after relegation.
City are in a strong position, better than many thought they would be and this season has to be solely focused on getting back into the Championship.
Despite the issues with the ownership, the club has plenty to be positive about – a terrific academy, a wonderful stadium and the basis of a talented young group of players that love the football club and want to do well for it.
Q: Who are the in-form players likely to pose Pompey problems this afternoon?
A: George Honeyman has been City’s best and most consistent performer by some distance. He’s excelled in the heart of midfield and dominates much of the good things the team do.
Nobody in League One has more assists than Honeyman’s eight, while the 629 passes he’s completed is only behind Lincoln’s Jorge Grant (815), so the stats back up just how important he’s been to the way Hull operate.
Josh Emmanuel was signed at the same time as home favourite Lewie Coyle and in truth, few expected the former to become a first team regular, but owing to Coyle’s suspension at the start of the season carried over from his play-off campaign with Fleetwood, Emmanuel was handed the shirt and hasn’t looked back.
He’s developed into the best right-back in the division and one of the best free transfers in recent times.
Q: Will Grant McCann be playing for a win at Fratton Park or would he be satisfied to make the long trip back north with a point?
A: Given the result against Accrington on Tuesday night, I think City would take a point right now. That said, it’s not in McCann’s nature to sit back and take a draw.
He still feels aggrieved about the result in December and there’s a desire to get revenge for that, so there’s little doubt he’ll be setting his team up to win the game and make a real statement.