Football: Tigers seek to emulate Foxes

Hull midfielders, Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamady and Senegalese Mohamed Diame, celebrating after the team beat Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship play-off final. After bouncing back straight after relegation, manager Steve Bruce wants to lear
Hull midfielders, Egyptian Ahmed Elmohamady and Senegalese Mohamed Diame, celebrating after the team beat Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship play-off final. After bouncing back straight after relegation, manager Steve Bruce wants to learn how other smaller sides survive.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Bruce's side say Hull-o to the EPL again and he aims for longer stay after a 4th promotion

LONDON • Steve Bruce believes Hull City can copy the blueprint of the Premier League's overachievers as they look to survive in English football's top flight.

The Englishman's side secured an immediate return to the big time following last year's relegation, thanks to Mohamed Diame's sublime strike in the Championship play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday.

The Senegal midfielder's long-range effort in the 72nd minute was enough to give Hull a 1-0 win at Wembley on Saturday and Bruce can now turn his attention to planning their attempt to avoid the drop next term.

It will help that Hull's bank balance will be boosted by the £110 million (S$222 million) windfall they will earn owing to the Premier League's new television contracts.

Spending that cash wisely is essential, but Bruce will also study shock champions Leicester City and the likes of Swansea, Watford and Bournemouth, who have all survived against the odds.

"Nobody gave us a cat in hell's chance of staying up a few years ago, but it can be done," he said. "We know we have to be at our maximum and invest well. That's the hardest part for a club like Hull.

"Even when you've got money you have to spend it wisely and get the right player. We'll do our best."

Bruce revealed that he had offered to resign after Hull's relegation but was persuaded to stay by the club's Egyptian owner Assem Allam.

The 76-year-old is ailing in hospital and Bruce dedicated the promotion to him.

"I did offer to resign because ultimately we failed. Thankfully the owner didn't want me to go," Bruce said. "I had a long hard think about it to see if I could repair the damage.

"I dedicate this to the chairman. His ill health concerns us all, so for him I'm very pleased."

Bruce is the first manager in the Premier League era to mastermind four promotions to the top flight - two with Hull and two with Birmingham City. But he conceded he was unsure at the start of the season if Hull, who eventually finished third in the Championship, were capable of recovering from relegation.

"There's an uncertainty when you get relegated. We didn't sign a player until the end of July and people lost their jobs," he said. "We had to sell several of our best young players to make up the £25 million deficit from relegation.

"It's never easy but thankfully we had enough in the squad to get us back up there.

"The last four times I've been in the Championship I've managed to get out of it. I'm delighted but it's not all about me."

Wednesday face a 17th successive year outside the Premier League after a below-par display on their first Wembley appearance since 1993.

But manager Carlos Carvalhal is hopeful the momentum from their surprise run to the play-offs will carry over into next season.

"We didn't play today like we usually play this season," the Portuguese said.

"We are still very happy and proud with what we did. I think we woke up the giant.

"Sheffield Wednesday will be more respected. This is something we created. Everything will not be like the past. We are in a good way. We must get stronger but we have a good base."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2016, with the headline 'Tigers seek to emulate Foxes'. Print Edition | Subscribe