The international break is over, and Swansea City’s season resumes when they host newly promoted Hull City on Saturday afternoon. The Swans have been made to wait two weeks since the disappointing 3-1 loss to Preston but will be boosted by the deadline day acquisitions of Rhys Williams, Michael Obafemi, and Olivier Ntcham.
Hull City find themselves level on points with the Swans, with both sides picking up four points from their opening five games. Hull’s season began with a 4-1 away win at Preston, before a run of three successive defeats without a scoring. They lost 3-0 and 1-0 at home to QPR and Derby respectively, before a 2-0 away defeat to Fulham.
In their last outing, they enjoyed a home draw with Bournemouth, but have failed to score a league goal since the opening day. Three days after the win over Preston, they were knocked out of the EFL Cup in the first round, losing on 8-7 on penalties to Wigan Athletic after the game finished 1-1.
Their transfer window
Given their limited finances, Hull City were restricted to free transfers and loans in the summer window.
They completed the signings of central midfielders Andy Cannon and George Moncur from Portsmouth and Luton Town respectively, with full-back/winger Randell Williams joining from Exeter City. On the same day, they also announced the acquisition of Nathan Baxter; the 22-year-old goalkeeper joined on a season-long loan from Chelsea. Baxter is yet to feature in the league for Hull, with Matt Ingram as their number one keeper.
Six days later, they brought in Ryan Longman on loan from Brighton, before adding their fourth permanent signing of the window when Tom Nixon joined from Stoke City. Hull closed out July by signing Di’Shon Bernard on loan from Manchester United.
They completed their fourth and final loan deal on 6th August, welcoming Wales international Matt Smith to the MKM Stadium. The 21-year-old arrived from Manchester City after spending last season on loan at Doncaster Rovers. Smith has made 15 appearances for Wales and was included in the squad for Euro 2020.
Four years after leaving the club to join Derby County, Tom Huddleston made his return to the club in mid-August. Huddleston initially joined Hull in 2013 from Tottenham for a fee of £5.25 million. He was a regular in the team for much of his first tenure, making 135 league appearances. In 2017, he completed a £2 million move to Derby County.
Their final signing of the window saw Tyler Smith move from Sheffield United. The 22-year-old forward spent last season on loan at Swindon Town, scoring seven goals in 23 League One games. His only appearance for the Blades came last month, in a 1-0 EFL Cup win over Carlisle United. Ex-Swan Rhian Brewster scored the only goal on that day.
While Hull made nine signings, they also waved goodbye to a long list of players, albeit many were youth products.
After spending the second half of last season on loan at QPR, Jordy de Wijs completed a permanent move to the London-based club in May. The Dutch centre-back has played in all five of QPR’s Championship games so far this season.
Reece Burke left to join fellow Championship side Luton Town. The 25-year-old centre-back made 104 league appearances for Hull during his three-year spell at the club.
Max Clark joined Fleetwood Town after only returning to Hull in February. The 25-year-old local boy made 27 appearances for Hull during his first spell, before joining Vitesse Arnhem in 2018. He returned to his boyhood club last season but failed to make a single appearance.
George Long moved to Millwall after making 57 league appearances for Hull during a three-year stint. Former West Ham youth product Martin Samuelson left to join FK Haugesund; the 24-year-old Norwegian played 12 times for Hull. Jordan Flores left for Northampton, while Thomas Mayer and Elliot Bonds joined SKU Amstetten and Cheltenham respectively.
They also allowed several players to leave on loan, including Scottish forward James Scott. He joined Scottish Premiership side Hibernian, after making 26 league appearances for Hull since his move from Motherwell in January 2020.
On 21st June 2019, Hull City appointed Grant McCann as manager. The 41-year-old former midfielder spent most of his 16-year playing career in the EFL, also boasting 39 Northern Ireland caps to his name.
He began his playing career at West Ham United but spent much of his time out on loan. He made four Premier League substitute appearances between 2000-2002, but was given his first taste of regular football while on loan at Cheltenham Town for the 2000-01 season. After making limited appearances while at Livingston and Notts County, McCann played 30 times in League Two.
He impressed at Cheltenham, completing a permanent move during the January transfer window in 2003. There, he played 155 league games in League One and Two, scoring 31 goals. He departed the club to join Barnsley on loan in November 2006, before completing a permanent move in January 2007. He remained at the club for just one year, before joining Scunthorpe United for an undisclosed fee.
Scunthorpe were relegated from the Championship during McCann’s first season at the club. The following campaign, he scored 9 goals in 43 League One outings as the club were promoted back to the Championship at the first time of asking, finishing sixth. He then made 42 Championship appearances in the 2009-10 season, scoring eight goals.
Despite avoiding relegation, McCann left in May 2010 to join Peterborough United, who were playing in League One at the time. He was named captain shortly after arriving. He enjoyed yet another promotion in his first season with the club, scoring nine in 38 games as Peterborough won the play-offs. He remained a regular at the club for three more seasons, featuring in a total of 81 Championship games in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. After their relegation in 2013, he played 41 League One games across a two-year span.
After five years at Peterborough, McCann left in January 2015 to join Linfield in his native Northern Ireland. However, he would spend just six weeks at the club, making six appearances, before returning to Peterborough. For around two weeks in September 2015, McCann served as caretaker manager at the club.
He was given his first permanent managerial role in May 2016, taking the Peterborough job following Graham Westley’s departure. McCann had worked as assistant manager under Westley prior to his sacking. There, he managed over 100 games, but was sacked in February 2018 after a poor run of form.
McCann made a swift return to management, taking over at Doncaster Rovers in June 2018. Under his tutelage, they finished sixth in League One, meeting Charlton Athletic in the play-off semi-finals. They lost the first leg 2-1 but won the second leg 3-2. This led to a penalty shootout, which Charlton won 4-3.
He left the club soon after, taking the Hull City job. At the time, the club were in the Championship. They started the season with a 2-1 defeat to Swansea in Steve Cooper’s first game in charge. On the 1st of January, a win over Sheffield Wednesday saw Hull rise to eighth in the table. However, the situation went rapidly downhill following that victory.
They closed January with four successive defeats, before selling star men Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki on deadline day. In their final 20 league games, Hull won just once, drawing three times, and losing the other 16 games. This included a humiliating 8-0 loss to Wigan. A final day defeat to Cardiff City condemned Hull to a 24th-place finish, despite being in the top half midway through the season.
After their capitulation, Hull City immediately bounced back last season. They finished top of the table, two points clear of second-place Peterborough United and nine above the play-off places.
Previous meetings with Hull City
Prior to the 2019-20 season when the two clubs last met, Swansea’s record against Hull was poor. They lost five in a row in all competitions against them between September 2015 and December 2018, including two Premier League losses in the 2016-17 season. In their six Premier League meetings, Swansea won two, drew one and lost three.
3rd August 2019
On the opening day of the 2019-20 season, in what was Steve Cooper’s first game as Swansea boss, the Swans ended their poor run of form against Hull.
Hull took the lead in the third minute through Daniel Batty, remaining 1-0 ahead at half-time. However, the Swans equalised two minutes after the restart when Borja Baston’s header looped over George Long in goal.
Two minutes later, Swansea turned the game around when Mike van der Hoorn headed in from close range. The Swans held on to secure all three points, and their first win over Hull in seven attempts.
Full time – Swansea City 2-1 Hull City
14th February 2020
With Hull City struggling for goals and on a run of six games without a win, few could have expected the score-line when they met the Swans at the MKM Stadium.
Hull opened the scoring in the sixth minute through Leo da Silva Lopes, but Wayne Routledge equalised seven minutes later. At half-time, the score was 1-1.
Five minutes into the second half, the hosts re-took the lead when Marcus Maddison capitalised on a mix-up at the back. They remained in front for just five minutes; a quickly taken corner from Matt Grimes found Kyle Naughton, who drilled into the roof of the net.
Hull took the lead for a third time in the 61st minute when Mallik Wilks struck from inside the penalty area. Once again, Swansea hit back, equalising through Jordon Garrick in the 77th minute.
For the first time in the game, the Swans took the lead themselves through on-loan forward Rhian Brewster. It looked as though the game was won for the visitors, but another defensive mix-up gave Tom Eaves the chance to equalise in the 95th minute. He found the net from close range, securing a point for the hosts.
Full-time – 4-4
The international break probably came at a good time for the Swans. The three Deadline Day signings (Rhys Williams, Michael Obafemi, and Olivier Ntcham) will have had time to acclimatise themselves to their new surroundings, while Russell Martin will also have benefitted from a fortnight without games after his last-minute arrival.
With Flynn Downes and Ben Cabango available again, Martin will have a stronger squad to choose from. The return of Kyle Naughton and Ben Cabango should help Swansea’s defensive concerns, while on-loan Liverpool defender Rhys Williams gives Martin another option.
The three new signings could all feature on Saturday, with Obafemi highly likely to start alongside top scorer Joel Piroe. Martin will be keen to see the two forwards form a strong partnership, as Swansea are the joint-second lowest scorers so far. Only Sheffield United (one goal) have scored fewer.
As for Hull, last season’s top scorer Mallik Wilks looks set to return. The 22-year-old forward has been out since their opening day win over Preston but has been involved in training for the past two weeks. However, Alfie Jones, Josh Magennis and George Honeyman are all doubts for the game. They will be boosted by their draw with promotion-chasing Bournemouth.
After a disappointing start, the Swans should get their season back on track with a win this weekend. However, Ntcham will provide extra strength and creativity in midfield, with Obafemi bolstering the attacking options.