The Hull City manager, Phil Brown, has no doubts his team will hit the ground running when they arrive at Bolton today. The struggling Tigers face a quick turnaround as they travel to the Reebok Stadium little more than 48 hours after a frenetic Premier League loss to Manchester United.
But after causing problems for the champions in the 3-1 defeat on Sunday, Brown is convinced spirit will overcome any fatigue in his squad. He said: "The programme has been highlighted by a number of managers and a number of clubs but I think the more congestion, the more success you are having. I want more congestion.
"My old mate Sam [Allardyce], when we were together at Bolton, always questioned the physiological side of two games in three days. I agree with him – it is very difficult – but when the spirit in the camp is good and the players are just desperate to play, it would be difficult, given the level of performance against Manchester United, to make too many changes. What we take from that is joy and a lot of pride in the performance and commitment the players showed. We need to take that into this game."
With Hull and Bolton together in the bottom three on 17 points, the match is crucial for both. Hull may feel victory is imperative given that the fixture comes after a run of just two points in five games and ahead of daunting clashes against Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United again.
Hull have also played two more games than Bolton but Brown, while not losing sight of the game's importance, wants to keep things in perspective. The former Bolton full-back said: "I'm not going beyond the Bolton game. We are focusing all our attention on the Reebok Stadium. We've a very difficult January around the corner so it would be nice to finish December off out of the bottom three. It is a big game, but no bigger than any other. It's the next one."
Hull have a number of fitness concerns for tonight's game. The defenders Paul McShane and Steven Mouyokolo are still troubled by the hamstring injuries that ruled them out of the Manchester United game. Geovanni (knee) and Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (shoulder) both suffered injuries on Sunday and will be assessed. The midfielder Seyi Olofinjana is available after being given permission by Nigeria to delay his departure for the African Nations Cup, but the Gabon striker Daniel Cousin has left for the tournament in Angola.
Hull are now halfway through their season and have won just four games, all at home. This time last year they were seventh in the table after an outstanding start to their first top-flight campaign, but then a dreadful run of form almost proved disastrous as they avoided relegation by just one point.
Brown is now hoping this season proves the reverse of last. "At the halfway stage we're very positive," he added. "I know we're 10 points behind the halfway stage last year, but we've just got to make sure the second half is a lot better than we did last year."
Despite losses to United and Arsenal in the last two games, the mood at Hull is still markedly different from how it was in October. Then poor form and dire financial reports painted a bleak picture. Brown's own position was also thought to be under threat as a new chairman, Adam Pearson, took over at the beginning of last month.
Relegation is still a worry but, when asked whether he was concerned about Hull's current league position, Brown said: "Not given the performances. If we continue down this line results will turn in our favour as opposed to against us. The faults we can identify [from the United game] can easily be put right." Brown also feels he has the backing of Pearson: "The way we are playing at the moment, the new chairman is more than pleased with the progress he is seeing on the field of play."Reuse content