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Match Preview: Hull City vs. Manchester United

STEVE BRUCE STEVE BRUCE STEVE BRUCE. Aside from that Manchester United have a very, very slight chance at making third, but could consign Hull City and their boss to The Championship as they face relegation.

Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Manchester United have officially nothing to play for in the final game of the season on Sunday, though their match away at Hull City should at least be slightly interesting in that the hosts are scrapping for their Premier League lives. Steve Bruce needs to mastermind a win over his former club for Hull to stay in the top flight, as well as hoping West Ham do a job against Newcastle United at St. James' Park.

Team news

Knowing our track record on these match previews, Louis van Gaal is about to come out and confirm half of the starting lineup have been struck down by a mystery illness. However *at the time of writing*, all we know is that Michael Carrick, Wayne Rooney and Luke Shaw are definitely out. We await to hear news on David de Gea, Jonny Evans and Ashley Young, who are all doubtful.

Hull will be without one of their most important midfielders in Jake Livermore after he failed a drugs test, while three of their most important first-teamers are also missing: centre-back Curtis Davies and midfielders Gastón Ramírez and Mo Diamé.


The most successful managers in football history tend to create teams in their own image -- think of Pep Guardiola's elegant Barcelona, or José Mourinho's calculating, cynical Chelsea. Well, no one can deny this Hull side are a reflection of Steve Bruce: you'd rather not look at either if you could help it. They're an extremely negative team, who pack men behind the ball (hence the third centre-back) and look to hit them on the counter-attack. In this match, there's no doubt that United will be able to dominate possession. It'll then be a case of trying to find gaps in Hull's huge defensive ranks.

When Hull win the ball back, United will have to try and limit the influence of their deep-lying midfielder Tom Huddlestone, who one may optimisically describe as the Humberside Pirlo. He'll look to play long diagonals up to two physical strikers, Nikica Jelavić and Dame N'Doye, as well as out to the flanks. The Tigers' most technically skilful player is probably the man out on the right, Ahmed Elmohamady. The Egyptian wing-back is genuinely entertaining to watch, and is an excellent crosser when given the chance. Fortunately Marcos Rojo was solid enough on the left side of defence against Arsenal, and will have to be so again versus Elmo.

We're unlikely to see any major tactical adjustments from van Gaal, and it'll be interesting to see if United are any more adept at playing the ball in the final third than they have been throughout the season so far. Chelsea and Everton both proved that United lack the technical skill and intelligence to efficiently break down deep defences, and Hull probably have the deepest defence in the league. The good news is that the Tigers need to win the game, so they may be a little more cavalier in their positioning than we would normally expect.

Probable lineups