Could the absence of ‘Elmo’ damage Hull City’s promotion push?

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THE latest thoughts of our sports blogger Myfanwy Garman looks at Hull City’s bid to reach the Premiership

Just over a week ago the chant “Elmo…Elmo” rang around the KC Stadium. Hull City fans welcomed

Ahmed Elmohamady when he arrived in the summer as one their own, and they will miss him now

that he has gone. The winger’s season-long loan was cut short last week after Sunderland, impressed

by his performances and short on attacking presence, recalled him to the Stadium of Light.

The departure of Elmohamady comes as a big blow because the player has been so influential in the

first half of Hull City’s 2012-13 campaign. His dynamic runs and blistering pace terrorised defences

of the opposition and, as a result, he was a constant threat down the right wing. Not only does the

winger have bags of skill to trick his way past opposition full-backs, but he is also a big threat in the

air. He wins numerous headers which helps link play from the defence to the attack.

Elmohamady’s main asset was his ability to cross the ball. And cross it well. It’s a technique that Hull

has lacked over the years but with Elmo down the right, the strikers had the service they needed to

score the goals. The Egypt international has assisted in six of Hull City’s goals this season, including

a superb cross in the Tigers recent game against Sheffield Wednesday and two assists in City’s 2-1

victory over Ipswich.

Without Elmohamady’s assists and goals, Hull City would be sitting in sixth position with 44 points,

rather than in third position with 50 points. This again shows how valuable Elmohamady was during

his brief loan-spell at the KC Stadium.

Elmohamady’s best performance came against Leeds United. The winger was inspired and put in a

Man of the Match performance. His goal and two assists in the 3-2 victory made sure Hull took all

three points from Elland Road.

Elmohamady was signed for Sunderland by Steve Bruce in 2010 and he arrived in England having

only played in the Egyptian Premier League for Ghazl El-Mahalla SC and ENPPI. At the time of his

arrival on Wearside, Elmohamady had only experienced football in England when on a trial with the

Black Cats, however he clearly had the credentials to become a Premier League player and, after

fighting off competition from West Brom and Club Brugge, Sunderland signed him up on a season-

long loan.

In the summer transfer window of 2011, Sunderland decided to make Ahmed Elmohamady’s stay at

the club permanent. In 55 appearances for Sunderland, Elmohamady has scored just one goal but

that is probably because he has not had much of a chance under current boss Martin O’Neill.

The 25-year-old’s lack of game time and opportunities at the Stadium of Light led him to Hull City,

to once again join forces with Steve Bruce. The fact that Elmo has scored just as many goals, and

assisted in six times as many goals, at the KC Stadium, as he did at Sunderland, shows that Bruce is a

manager who can get the most out of him and his talent.

Elmohamady brought a certain fluency to Hull and made the football interesting and exciting. He’s

helped City to become title contenders rather than play-off hopefuls and he’s also injected a lot of

pace and width into the team, who, before his arrival, were happy to play the ‘long-ball game’.

Hopefully, depending on whether Sunderland find an attacking player before the January transfer

window closes, Elmohamady will return to Hull City by February. For now, Cameron Stewart is a

suitable, though not necessarily ideal, replacement for Ahmed Elmohamady. Stewart can play on

both wings but he does not possess the same skills and experience as Elmohamady. The inability to

replace Elmohamady with a natural winger, who is willing to attack and defend down the right flank,

could affect the shape and balance of the team and perhaps threaten their promotion chances.