Sport Soccer

Monday 24 October 2016

Bruce remains optimistic

Published 11/04/2015 | 21:56

Steve Bruce's Hull side slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Southampton
Steve Bruce's Hull side slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Southampton

Steve Bruce remains confident that Hull can stave off relegation, despite leaving Southampton off the back of an all too familiar defeat.

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Last season's run to the FA Cup final and Premier League safety is a distant memory for City fans as their side slide worryingly close to a Championship return.

The latest blow came at St Mary's, where James Ward-Prowse and Graziano Pelle ended long goal droughts as Southampton withstood an impressive start from Hull to secure a 2-0 win.

Sone Aluko proved a nuisance and Jake Livermore forced Kelvin Davis into a save early in the second half, yet the inability to capitalise saw the match play out in a way Bruce has unfortunately become accustomed to.

"Well, we expected them to be better," the Tigers boss said of Southampton.

"Livermore has hit a screaming shot from 18 yards where the goalkeeper, to be fair to Kelvin, has made terrific save and then we have given a poor goal away, which is not like us.

"When in the ascendency like we were, you have to score, you have to take advantage of that situation.

"Apart from the first half against Swansea, against Chelsea the week before that and today we've been in the game and given ourselves a chance.

"If we take one of them chances, I am still convinced we have enough to stay in this division but obviously we're in the fight like everybody else."

Despite still hovering just above the bottom three, Hull are many people's favourites to get sucked into the relegation zone due to their unenviable last six fixtures.

Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United all come to the KC Stadium before the season is out, while trips to fellow strugglers Burnley and revitalised Crystal Palace await.

"Listen, Sunderland today would be thinking they've got chance against Crystal Palace at home and get beat by four," Bruce said.

"We've got four games out of six at home and we have to win a couple of them, in my opinion, and might have to do a bit more than that.

"We've certainly got an opportunity no matter who we play against as we're at home.

"Going to Southampton, Swansea, Leicester, they're all not easy. That's why we're in the position we are in.

"We are finding it difficult but I'm still convinced we can beat three others. It'll be difficult but I still remain positive we can do it."

Bruce had no complaints about the decision to award a penalty against son Alex, but was irritated that Pelle's forearm on him only warranted a yellow card.

That decision allowed the Italy international to eventually end his long wait for a Premier League goal and wrap up the win, much to the delight of Saints manager Ronald Koeman.

"The last goal was in December," he said. "It's a long time ago.

"It wasn't a discussion, it wasn't a question how he is playing because he showed his qualities to be a strong target man, but if you are a striker you like to score and you need to score and it will help him a lot the second goal."

The opener here came from England Under-21s midfielder Ward-Prowse, with the converted penalty representing his first-ever league goal.

It was an impressive finish from the 20-year-old substitute and an opportunity Sadio Mane attempted to deny him, claiming the ball only to see it wrestled away from him.

"I was surprised because everybody knows if Proswey is on the pitch and normally Dusan (Tadic) and they are the first and the second choice to take the penalty," Koeman said.

"I had to shout to Jose (Fonte) to change that because it looks that Sadio was taking the penalty and Prowsey accepted that.

"I don't understand that because he knows the first choice. It was a difficult situation, a difficult situation, but I had to do it.

"That's the problem about Mane. The rules in the team are more important and nothing else."

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