Nightmare for Phelan and he is braced for a long, hard winter

Published: 16th October 2016 08:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2016 08:59 AM   |  A+A-


Hull City's Jake Livermore, right,and AFC Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match between AFC Bournemouth and Hull City | AP

By The Daily Telegraph

The early-season optimism which -accompanied Hull City's first three -results has quickly been extinguished after they imploded at Bournemouth and Mike Phelan says it will take "momentous hard work" to stay in the Premier League.

Winless in six, with four straight -defeats and 17 goals conceded, this is the kind of form that will ensure Phelan's nightmares start well before Halloween this year.

Phelan, who was named manager of the month in August, this week signed a contract to be in charge of Tigers until the end of the season. He may be checking the small print for a get-out cause after watching the way his team defended on the south coast.

"We have to react to it," he said. "It is something we are all responsible for. The players are hugely disappointed because we're not the team we thought we were. We rebuild confidence, we explore reasons why these things happen and then we have to push ahead. 

"The task at hand is not just one game, but a whole season.".

With three goals in each half, Eddie Howe's side recorded their biggest ever Premier League win and climbed into the top half of the table in the process.

They have won their last three home games and will not gain an easier three points than they did in this emphatic victory. "Our goal is to improve on last season," said Howe, who is rapidly gaining a reputation as a perfectionist. 

Hull's bright and flashy pink strip was a marked contradiction to the way they played. Fewer than 1,300 supporters made the journey south and they will not consider it money well spent.

With Will Keane isolated in attack, Hull often had nine players involved in defensive duties but they were unable to stem Bournemouth's incisive and, at times, ferocious attacking intent.

"We were the victims of our own downfall," said Phelan. "Four set pieces there, not concentrating. You get punished. Give a free opportunity to someone at this level and they'll take it."

And Bournemouth did. It took only five minutes for Charlie Daniels to open the scoring, volleying into an empty net after the ball had dropped to him off the post following Junior Stanislas's excellent free-kick.

Steve Cook's careless pass gave Tigers' fans their only moment of cheer as Ryan Mason scored from twenty yards, though the ball took a deflection off the retreating Cook.

The Bournemouth defender, praised by Howe for his "growing maturity", was making his 200th appearance for the club and soon atoned. Cook rose highest to meet another excellent free-kick from Stanislas and head the home side back in front.

Before half-time, Bournemouth had built a two-goal cushion. Robert Snodgrass needlessly lunged at Callum Wilson and, after come consultation, Stanislas duly converted from the spot.

Bournemouth extending their lead always looked more likely than Hull reducing it, and so it proved. Calamitous defending compounded by a total absence of marking allowed the Cherries to plunder three second half goals. 

Stanislas added his second after a good combination between Adam Smith and Josh King allowed the former Burnley player to tap in at the back post.

The same post was entirely deserted by Hull's defenders as Bournemouth added a fifth. This time, Wilson was the grateful recipient, nonchalantly heading in from King's precise cross.

With the Tigers' defence increasingly resembling training-ground mannequins, substitute Dan Gosling swept in a fine left-footed finish as home supporters sung "you're getting sacked in the morning" to Phelan.

"I have sympathy for every manager that loses on a Saturday night," said an empathetic Howe. "It is your ability to handle that and go again that defines your success." It promises to be a long winter in the East Riding.


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