Written by Zack Wilson
Photo by Super League
Hull FC have started the 2019 season in the same way that they ended the 2018 campaign – by losing.
FC lost their derby opener away at Hull KR on the opening evening of their campaign, and followed that up at the weekend with another close defeat, losing 26-18 at the KCOM Stadium.
They could have won either of those games based on how they played, but losing seems to have become a habit for the Airlie Birds.
There is sense that some players have gone as far as they can under Radford.
Mark Minichiello should probably have been shipped out in the close season to freshen up the back row, while Sika Manu does not look the same player as he has done in recent seasons.
His performances in the Tongan jersey have shown that he can offer much more than he has shown in a Hull shirt in recent times.
It might almost sound sacrilegious to say it – but is it also about time that Danny Houghton was moved on?
While Houghton remains a defensive machine, he seems to offer less and less in the way of attack.
Against KR, he seemed to do little more than just pass the ball to forwards, there was none of the spark and running that we have seen from him in times past.
He could certainly benefit from some support in the hooking role from the bench, to give him a bit of a rest if nothing else.
Jake Connor remains the club’s best player, as things stand, and there is a sense that more needs to be done to get the ball to him at stand-off.
Stand-off is certainly where he should be deployed as things stand – Hull need him to get his hands on the ball as often as possible.
Having him out in the centres lessens his impact at a time when Hull need every creative player in the action as much as possible.
Radford is also battling injuries, of course, with Matty Dawson-Jones the latest player to have been confirmed for a long spell on the sidelines.
“Matty Dawson-Jones is obviously a huge blow after playing one game for the club and Hakim came in on short notice,” the coach told the Hull Daily Mail.
“It’s a frustrating one. We’ve got a salary cap, it’s a bummer.”
The existence of the salary cap makes it harder to refresh a squad than it is in football, for example.
That is perhaps what is keeping Radford in post right now – the fact that there is very little he can do other than keep ploughing on.
He can’t change his personnel in any real significant way, and still has to manage plenty of injuries to players.
His contract is up at the end of the season, along with that of his coaching staff, and it would be hard to see him being retained by the club if results continue as they are.
How much time the club hierarchy gives Radford if there is no improvement remains to be seen.
There are not many immediately obvious candidates to replace Radford if the board does decide to end his time at the club.
Finding a replacement could trigger another headache that the club really doesn’t need right now.
Of course, there is one ex-Super League coach not currently involved in the game who might see Hull as a good place to rejoin the fray.
I wonder if Hull chairman Adam Pearson has Shaun Wane’s phone number? Now that would be an appointment that would really make things interesting.
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