In April, Hull City went to Oakwell on a Monday evening, and with a performance of some authority, beat Barnsley 3-1. On that night in S. Yorkshire, Hull had ‘the look’ of a team destined for promotion.
The Tigers played with a natural confidence and self-assurance. Players seemed comfortable in their team roles. Energy levels were good. The team, purposeful and well-motivated.
Manager Phil Brown seemed both focused and at ease with the pressure. And the fans had a buoyancy and togetherness about them, as if feeling and knowing, that promotion was ‘on’. It was hard to contain the sense of euphoria.
Then, the following Saturday, Hull were tamely beaten by Sheffield United, in a flat performance, that Phil Brown described at the worst of the season. Between the Monday and the Saturday, Hull had expended the emotional charge, they had so impressively created at Oakwell.
Perhaps, it was an emotional-high, some of the more inexperienced players couldn’t handle. Flat performances can be attributed to a number of things. For example, de-motivation, tiredness, inappropriate preparation. The latter can include dressing room arguments, conflicts, late nights or an assumption of success. Either way, something impacted on the Hull City promotion push.
The good news for the Tigers, is they have it back. Last night at the KC Stadium, Hull City looked again, like a team destined for promotion. Certainly in the second-half. An energised team. Confident manager. Buoyant fans.
The look comes when a team or player, embodies the goals they have projected to achieve. So, if a team sets a collective goal of reaching the Premiership, and does the correct mental work in imagining that goal, supported by consistent success, eventually, the team start to have the look, the feel and the belief of a Premiership team in waiting. They have successfully attracted the future into the present.
The skill then, is being to contain that feeling. To not disperse it immaturely, like drunken sailors. Hull City have ten days before their Wembley play-off final. One of Phil Brown’s key tasks, will be to make sure, his players keep their feet, very firmly on the ground. Hull City’s first ever appearance at Wembley, must not serve to distract from the main goal and intention.
They have done the hard work, of connecting back to that special winning feeling. Now they have to make sure they keep it intact until Wembley. It will be a test of the emotional maturity of the Hull City players. But if they past that test, the promised land of Premier League football beckons.