Hull-raiser Taylor the tamer of unrealistic dreams

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The Independent Football

That may appear a little ambitious from a club who only escaped the basement division 15 months ago. Yet such are the expectations of supporters savouring the Championship after back-to-back promotions, Taylor's most pressing task is to keep optimism at realistic levels.

The manager has chosen wisely to err on the side of caution, and clearly expects to give quiz buffs another season or two before having to erase Hull from their answer sheets. "I know the fans want to get into the Premiership and I don't blame them," he admitted. "Then again so does everyone else involved at this club, but you have to be realistic. We're in a very tough division now and it might be a case of establishing ourselves in the Championship before looking to build.

"You can't expect to win promotion every season. Most of the supporters understand this and won't be putting too much pressure on us. If we stay in this division for two or three seasons then there's a very good chance we could go on and do things. I hope the fans think like that, although I very much doubt it. Some won't and there will always be a small section with unrealistic dreams. You can't do much about that."

The three clubs promoted 12 months ago all avoided an immediate return to League One. Emulating such a feat is the height of Taylor's ambition in the club's first season at this level since 1978, remarkable progress having finished among the four worst League clubs in the country for two years running at the end of the last Millennium.

He added: "We'll be tested more than ever this season. We're no longer one of the big teams in the division as we've been recently, we have to adapt to that."

The mental scars from the battering to his reputation during an annus horribilis at Leicester four years ago clearly plays a significant role in Taylor's caution. He may well be an international tactician and motivator of some repute in the England set-up. But success at Gillingham and Brighton prior to emulating that at Hull has been achieved in domestic football's lower reaches.

The 52-year-old remains an unproven force in the higher echelons of League football, and is keen not to set himself up for an embarrassing fall. "My only ambition this season is to avoid relegation. It sounds like a cliché but we've jumped up another level and it'll be difficult for us to survive. Success will be finishing above the relegation zone."

As he approaches his third anniversary in charge, Taylor has been backed to the tune of £1m by chairman Adam Pearson to invest in five summer signings. Taylor added: "I'm delighted with the progress we've made this summer in strengthening the squad. The chairman's been fantastic. I wanted two players for every position, and that's what we've got. I also wanted defenders with quick feet to deal with the greater threat."

After ironing out differences over Taylor's continued dual role in coaching the England Under-21 side, Pearson enjoys one of the most amicable chairman-manager working relationships in the country. He echoes Taylor's caution, but will not allow that to stand in the way of his ultimate Premiership ambitions as the club continue to capitalise on the momentum generated by trading an antiquated Boothferry Park for the KC Stadium in 2002. The chairman said: "We plan to establish ourselves in this division then over the next two or three years push on and challenge at the top end of the Championship with a view to eventually achieving Premiership status."

Sergio Leite, Mark Lynch, Danny Coles, Curtis Woodhouse and Steve McPhee have arrived to strengthen all four facets of the side. "The manager played a big part in me coming here," revealed Coles after the defender completed his £200,000 move from Bristol City this week. "He's been there and done it and dealt with the big players and has got a lot of respect in the game."

Average gates have quadrupled in seven years, and 20,000 are expected for Saturday's season opener at home to QPR to hint at the potential being tapped into in this corner of East Yorkshire.

Then again, such a healthy level of support should come as little surprise, because as any quiz team worth its salt will tell you...

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