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May 25, 2009

Duffen: Tigers will learn from Prem campaign

Hull chairman Paul Duffen has promised the Tigers will be a ''lot wiser'' during their second Premier League campaign after narrowly avoiding relegation from the top flight.

Phil Brown's side retained their Premier League status by one point despite a 1-0 home defeat against Manchester United as results elsewhere ensured it was Newcastle and Middlesbrough that dropped into the Coca-Cola Championship along with West Brom.

Hull's survival was as much down to the lamentable form of their rivals as it was their own efforts, with a run of only one win from their last 22 league outings leading to a dismal return of eight points from the last 66 on offer.

Their woes in the latter half of the campaign were in stark contrast to their early-season form, when the Tigers looked a good bet for Europe after taking 20 points from their first nine games.

Duffen told Radio Five Live: ''It was difficult. I could give you all the platitudes like 'it's the points you get after 38 games' and 'we got a point more than Newcastle and we deserved to be there', but obviously it was heart-in-mouth stuff.

''The last 20 games have been interesting, although in the middle of it we had a successful FA Cup run, so it didn't actually feel as bad as the points tally would reflect.

''We limped across the line rather than burst though the tape. But we did it and now we've got the chance to learn from our first Premier League campaign, strengthen in the summer, and go forward next year a lot wiser.''

Hull's safety was confirmed on the anniversary of their play-off win against Bristol City, which sealed their place among the elite 12 months ago, and Duffen believes their survival has proved their doubters wrong.

''We came in and we were written off along with Stoke,'' he said. ''We were obviously going to have a lightweight squad because we were a newly-promoted side.

''What we lacked in outright quality we had to make up for in blood, guts and commitment and I'm immensely proud that they got across the line.''

Despite the euphoria of beating the drop - exemplified by Brown's not-so melodious outburst on the KC Stadium turf at full-time yesterday - Duffen admits a summer of squad strengthening lies ahead, with a striker top of his wishlist after seeing his side notch only 39 top-flight goals this season.

He said: ''We go into next year with the squad we've got today and then we can improve on that. That's a huge difference to having to assemble an entire Premier League squad from scratch.

''We're based on a very good work ethic and you need to add a bit of quality to that.

''Jimmy Bullard will be playing next season but we know we need a couple of goalscorers.

''We've been a bit light on goals and I've got no problems if we have a good crack at trying to strengthen that area.''

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