Hull City are not ready for Premier League - Mike Phelan
CARETAKER manager Mike Phelan has admitted Hull's threadbare squad is not yet in a position to compete at a Premier League standard.
The Tigers have been beset by problems during a tumultuous pre-season, highlighted by Steve Bruce's exit as manager, and are set to face champions Leicester in their opener at Saturday lunchtime with just 13 fit senior players. The club are yet to make a signing this summer and long-term injuries, especially in defence, have left Phelan to pick up the pieces as he looks to press his own claims to take over the manager's position on a full-time basis.
Asked if he had a squad capable of competing with the champions, Phelan said: "I would say no, simply because of the injuries - and the injuries are not short term.
"Most of them are longer term than we expected. It's a small squad, but small squads before have worked well together. There definitely need to be additions to this football club."
The task of bringing in new names has proven problematic in the wake of Bruce's departure and Phelan admitted transfer plans have had to be completely redrawn after seeing a number of targets go elsewhere: "At the moment, it is all purely picking up the phones, speaking to people and trying to find the targets," he said.
"[We're chasing] new targets because people we went for earlier in the pre-season have now moved on and gone to other clubs. We have to start again, I know it's a short window, the pressure is on now to do some business."
The uncertainty over the club's ownership has hardly helped matters, although there is some light at the end of that tunnel, with prospective buyers set to be in attendance at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday. A group of representatives for the potential owners visited Hull's training base in Cottingham earlier this week and it is understood talks are at an advanced stage.
The appearance of the potential new owners is set to coincide with a planned supporter protest against the Allam family's ownership. Hull fans are set to be handed red cards to brandish before kick-off in a show of dissatisfaction at the way the club has been run.
Their mood could be appeased by the attendance of the potential owners, with sources close to the deal suggesting it could go through within weeks, with only a due diligence process to be completed. It is not known whether a deal will be wrapped up before the transfer window closes.
Phelan's own future is likely to rest on those talks, but the former Manchester United coach insists he is up for the task: "I feel as though I am ready for management," he said.
"I've been an assistant for quite a while now. I've been in the lower divisions and I've been in the higher divisions, so I have got the experience and it's just a case of everything in the background being sorted out as to what they want to do going forward. I'm sure we'll have further conversations about that."
Midfielder Tom Huddlestone backed Phelan to be given the manager's job full-time, but expressed some frustration that an appointment had not already been made: "I think he's done well," he said.
"He's got a few new ideas wich the lads have adapted to. If he is to get the job, it's just a shame he wasn't given it straight away. The players and staff just want clarity, whichever way the chairman goes. You just want things decided as soon as possible."
Huddlestone's concerns extend to the lack of players coming into a squad, which has actually decreased in size, with Mohamed Diame, who scored the winner to send Hull up, having since left for Newcastle: "You even see teams in the Championship spending dozens of millions every few weeks on players and we're yet to bring one in," he said.
"It's a bit strange, but we've just got to stick together. We're going to need a few signings if, realistically, we're going to stay up. It is surprsing. You see the likes of Middlesbrough and Burnley, especially Middlesbrough, have signed four or five established international players who have competed at the top level for years."