When the fixture list was announced prior to the start of the season and Hull fans saw that they would be hosting Manchester United this weekend, they could have been forgiven for flirting with defeatism. This was Hull City, the club with no manager, no signings and 13 fit senior players, faced with the might of Jose Mourinho's footballing behemoth. With their owners rumoured to be on the verge of selling the club, Hull's plight looked grim, and the team were spoken and written about with a tone more befitting some sort of cultish Doomsday prophecy. If Hull didn't get their act together, they'd finish with the lowest points total of all time. If Hull didn't appoint a first-team manager, the KCOM Stadium would be wiped out by an asteroid. If Hull didn't sign at least three middling Eredivisie players, the universe would succumb to instantaneous heat death. These were the sort of predictions being thrown Hull's way, leaving the mood amongst supporters understandably bleak.
What we had all underestimated, however, was the dowdy determination of caretaker manager Mike Phelan. In the wake of Steve Bruce's departure, Phelan has managed to galvanise the depleted group of invalids at his disposal and, against all odds, turn them into a winning team. Hull produced a significant upset on the opening weekend by beating defending champions Leicester, before twatting Swansea away in their second game of the season. They have taken the absolute piss out of the football commentariat, including, we hasten to add, ourselves.
Having spent the best days of his playing career at United, and having been assistant coach towards the end of the Ferguson era, this weekend's fixture could be emotional for Phelan. That won't stop him from trying to frustrate United and, considering his recent record, we can't rule out another surprise result. Sure, Phelan will probably have to play two planks of wood at full back, and an abandoned washing machine in the centre of defence. We're sure he can drill them into something resembling a functional back four, though. God knows, the washing machine couldn't be any less mobile than Michael Dawson.