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09/01/2017 at 21:40

NationalTiger

PREVIEW: Manchester United v Hull City - EFL Cup SF 1st Leg

You know, come the end of this month, City will have played Manchester United 3 times in 3 weeks. It's a surefire bet, we'll be sick of the sight of each other for one reason or another as January closes in on February. Whether it be heavy defeats for the Tigers, or perhaps, just maybe, the mother of all cup shocks occuring, neither side is likely to want to see each other again for a while. 

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EFL Cup Semi Final 1st Leg



Or at least you could've said that last week. The predictable link with Mike Phelan has been dramatically erased by Hull City in the past few days. Yet, in a surreal twist, the link still prevails as new manager Marco Silva is set to meet his Portuguese counterpart - Jose Mourinho - this Tuesday night. They're good friends, apparently. The bind remains in tact between the two clubs, it seems.

While the case for Hull City progressing over two legs appears dimly lit, where there is light, there's hope. After all, this is the cup, regardless of the fact this is uncharted territory for the Tigers. Never before has our club graced the League Cup semi finals, but we have - very recently in fact - made a Wembley final before; in the FA Cup. Therefore, this occasion is not totally alien to our silverware barren club. Indeed, our cup pedigree and stock has taken a sharp upturn for the better in recent years.

More plusses sees Marco Silva tasting, victory and a clean sheet in his very first match, neither of which have been common this season. Getting both, feels like Christmas, actually. For all City's well documented frailties, spirit is not one of them. Silva will hope to tap into this surprisingly deep well while here - and he appears to have quickly highlighted this. A smart cookie? Or a realist? Regardless, he desperately needs help to bring in quality squad additions to mix and formulate for the better with that aforementioned spirit that continues among the players.

Just 13 fit bodies have trained ahead of the first leg trip to Old Trafford. Far from being ideal, the minimalistic squad size we've had all season is really starting to bite hard, in a harsh winter period, that sees the fixtures roll in at an alarming rate. Fans made their feelings known to our miserly owners on Saturday by boycotting the FA Cup game - invest or sell. But as Silva has already stated since arriving, if he believes, the players believe, the fans have to do likewise. And he's right. Point now made, no more boycotting, let's do this.

Skipper Michael Dawson suffered a shoulder injury in the FA Cup victory over Swansea City and remains a serious doubt. Harry Maguire has a hip problem and is in the same state of flux but has at least trained. Curtis Davies was already missing from Saturday's win, meaning the match finished with 3 midfielders in our defence - and it could be the same at Old Trafford in the worst injury case scenario. Abel Hernandez returned - and scored - after a 2 month injury lay-off, the Uruguayan is likely to make a very welcome start in attack.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has stated he intends to go full strength in the first leg to kill the tie dead. This, despite playing Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday. When quizzed on this, Mourinho without hesitation, declared that this fixture was the bigger game. Hmmm... It means Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia are all likely to come back into contention. Wayne Rooney might have to wait, to actually break Sir Bobby's record.

History will be made for Hull City regardless of what happens over this two legged tie with Manchester United. The positive is; Marco Silva gets two more 'free hit' games to assess his squad before attempting to perform the miracle (his own words) required to keep the Tigers in the top flight - which is his and the club's - main priority right now.

Therefore, good luck Marco, you're probably going to need it. 

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