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'I'm from Sandy Row, I do not hide': Grant McCann vows to fight on despite fan pressure as Hull City suffer relegation blow

 

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Hull City manager Grant McCann

Hull City manager Grant McCann

PA

Hull City manager Grant McCann

Hull City manager Grant McCann is already looking to next season despite increasing pressure on his position after his side suffered a huge relegation blow in their penultimate Championship game.

The former Northern Ireland midfielder is struggling to keep the crisis-hit club in the Championship thanks to a collapse in form since January, when his two top-scorers were sold on transfer deadline day.

A 1-0 defeat to Luton Town on Saturday dropped City to the very bottom of the league table, three points from safety with a game to play.

The 12 point deduction that could be applied to Wigan for going into administration offers Hull's only hope of staying up and even at that, a win over sixth-placed Cardiff is a must on Wednesday evening with Wigan and Luton falling to defeat while Barnsley are denied victory.

It all seems something of a long-shot, particularly given Hull's atrocious form that has yielded just six points from their last 19 league games.

Last week's 8-0 pasting at the hands of Wigan had sparked unrest amongst the support and Saturday's defeat did little to quell the storm.

McCann faced a tough press conference in the aftermath of weekend's game and, when questioned about sending his assistant Cliff Byrne to the pre-match press conference, he insisted he was no shrinking violet with a hark back to growing up in Belfast.

"Let me tell you something, I’m from Sandy Row in Belfast. I do not hide, let me tell you that now," he said.

Having led Doncaster Rovers to the League One play-offs last season, McCann made the step up to Hull this season on a 12-month rolling contract.

Despite the likely relegation and supporter pressure, he indicated that he is already focused on the new season, whichever league it may be in.

"There’s a bigger picture here and a bigger plan, until I’m told otherwise," he said.

"One thing I’m firmly focused on is trying to regroup myself, first and foremost, regroup my thoughts, try and reset and go from there. I’ll do that with myself and my staff.

"People have got a right for an opinion and certainly the fans who pay their hard-earned cash, but one thing you’ll never get from me or Cliff and the staff we’ve got is hiding.

"We need to make sure we come back strong if we do end up going into League One, but we’ve still got a chance at Cardiff."

McCann played 39 times for Northern Ireland and during his playing career helped both Scunthorpe United and Peterborough United to promotion from League One.

Suffering more disappointing days this season, he says, is not easy:

"It kills me. My wife and kids were crying on the phone the other night. It hurts. I take it so personal. I always blame myself first, I always look at myself.

"One hundred per cent it hurts. It hurt right up until today the game during the week. But we’ll always look at the game and try to come back."

Hull's game at Cardiff kicks off at 7.30pm on Wednesday, when all of the final Championship fixtures begin simultaneously.

Bizarrely, however, clubs may not be 100% certain if they have been relegated or not with Wigan's appeal against their points deduction not expected to be heard before the final round of games.

Middlesbrough, including Northern Ireland midfielders Paddy McNair and George Saville, and Birmingham are not yet safe, two points clear of the relegation zone.

At the other end of the table, West Brom are a point ahead of Brentford in the battle to join champions Leeds in the automatic promotion places while Cardiff and Nottingham Forest need just a point each to secure a play-off place ahead of Swansea.

Belfast Telegraph