The Tigers currently sit 13th in the league, seven points away from the playoffs. Remarkable when you consider that City were in the bottom three at the start of December. Nigel Adkins has done fantastically well with what little resources he has and rightly won Manager of the Month for December along with Player of the Month Jarrod Bowen. But is a playoff push a realistic expectation in a very tough league. I look at the teams sat above City in the table and how their current misfortunes could work in City’s favour.
1st Leeds – The yearly collapse for Leeds United could be starting very soon. They have lost their last two league games and have relied on injury time winners in the two before that. They look nothing like the team from earlier in the season.
2nd Norwich – The Canaries look to be a classy side and are the favourites for promotion in my opinion. They have only won one in their last five league games but should have the quality to stay up there. Striker Teemu Pukki has 15 league goals and should he stay fit then automatic promotion is their aim.
3rd Sheffield United – A team that has flown under the radar in the last couple of seasons with consistent performances. Chris Wilder has the Blades playing well but beyond their starting team, depth is an issue. Last season star player Paul Coutts had a long period out injured and Sheff U suffered because of it. Should they lose one of their starting team to injury, the lack of depth in their team could hurt them.
4th West Brom – Star man Harvey Barnes who has 9 goals in 26 outings this season has been recalled by parent club Leicester City and if they are unable to replace him in the January window, they could suffer from losing Barnes who has been phenomenal for the Baggies this season.
5th Derby – Frank Lampard has done a good job in his first season as a manager. Derby are always around the playoff places and I expect them to do exactly the same this season.
6th Middlesbrough – Tony Pulis’ side have only won two of their last eight matches and the fans are growing tired of slow paced route one football as they don’t look like a side with much quality.
7th Nottingham Forest – Manager Aitor Karanka left the club earlier today due to his poor relationship with the owner. I don’t think another manager will be able to come in and perform as well as Karanka has with the resources given to him.
8th Birmingham City – The Blues are unlikely to be near the playoffs at the end of this season but their issues lie off the pitch as they could be receiving a points deduction and a transfer embargo due to breaking Financial Fair Play rules.
9th QPR – Steve Maclaren’s side haven’t lost in five league games but with a transfer embargo preventing any new signings, no improvements can be made to the squad in the January window.
10th Aston Villa – Villa have looked to be a quality side since Dean Smith’s arrival and should they sort out issues with consistency they should be able to reach the playoffs for the second season in a row.
11th Bristol City – Bristol are unbeaten in eight league games but much like Sheffield United their lack of squad depth could be an issue in the business end of the season.
12th Swansea City – A side who has shown promise but are yet to string together a good run of results. Like Villa, if they can sort these issues out they could be in line to make a playoff push.
13th HULL CITY – City have earned 16 points from a possible 18 in the last six matches. Nigel Adkins has worked miracles and should the owners honour their recent statement saying key players won’t be sold and finances will be available to Adkins as a result of selling or loaning players out, the form may continue. Having won promotions with Scunthorpe United and Southampton with a similar lack of resources he is the right man if the Tigers are to make an unlikely late playoff push. I think Norwich and Derby are the only teams you can pretty much guarantee will have a place in the top six, so there is everything to play for.
Written by: Alex Green