Hull City’s quite incredible home record was maintained against all odds on Saturday as Sam Clucas’ wonder goal sealed a priceless victory at the KCOM. Ironically, Clucas’ only poor performance of the season came against Watford at Vicarage Road in October, where an injury to Andy Roberson saw the former Chesterfield man start at left-back. While he was certainly given the run-around that day by Watford’s Nordin Amrabat, his performance on Saturday, capped-off by his goal of the season, surely made up for it, as well as epitomising the type of performance City fans have come to expect from one of the club’s strongest, yet often overlooked, player of the season contenders.
As I have noted in this blog a few times this season, Clucas has unquestionably been the Tigers’ surprise package this term. Having a solid start to the season – other than the aforementioned away trip to Watford – the former Chesterfield and Lincoln City man has practically been an ever-present in our starting XI this season. However, it has been the 26-year-old’s impressive form since the arrival of Marco Silva which has really caught the eye – moving from the left flank to a more central ‘box to box’ role.
It’s curious. The former England ‘C’ team international is certainly not the playmaking, match-winning player Hull City perhaps have missed during sections of the season, however, he has still become an almost essential part of our team. As I noted in my ‘Easter Report Card’, Clucas, who was playing Conference football just five seasons ago, can play a number of different positions incredibly competently. His unique record of scoring in the Conference, League Two, League One, the Championship and the Premier League in consecutive seasons is testament to how hard he has had to work, and how much he has achieved. It is this hard work that Marco Silva is now taking advantage of, with the midfielder’s solid 7 or 8 out of 10 rated performances each week being exactly what a side struggling at the bottom of the Premier League needs.
While it is widely accepted that the former graduate of Glenn Hoddle’s Marbella footballing academy is by no means the finished article just yet, Clucas is looking more and more like Steve Bruce’s best Hull City signing as the months go by. Bought for the relatively meagerly sum of £1 million for Chesterfield in the summer of 2015, Clucas has made the abrupt step-up to the Premier League with apparent ease, and will certainly be on the radar of several Premier League sides should the Tigers find themselves back in the Championship next season. It now seems an awful long time ago since small sections of the City faithful prematurely nicknamed the 26-year-old ‘Sam Clueless’ at the start of last season.
Clucas’ rise within the ranks of Hull City, which mirrors the rise in his career more generally, shows no sign of slowing down with murmurings that the midfielder, who was released by Leicester City at the age of 16 for being too small, may be in line for an international call-up with Gareth Southgate’s England squad this summer. With City teammate Harry Maguire also rumoured to be on Southgate’s watch list, it will surely be this pair, perhaps along with goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, who will dominate Hull City’s player of the season awards latter next month. However, for my money, Clucas’ relatively unsung, ever-present and consistent displays this season makes him my player of the season.