TIM SHERWOOD remains upbeat about Tottenham Hotspur's bid for a Champions League spot despite losing ground in the race for a top-four place.
The Spurs head coach made it clear that none of the transfer window targets mooted by chairman Daniel Levy would have made it on to the pitch ahead of the players he has and he believes the return from injury of Paulinho and Jan Vertonghen, who started here, and Younes Kaboul, who was on the bench, gave his squad as big a boost as it needed.
It was a little ironic, then, that they found themselves troubled by a team whose manager took the opposite view to the possibilities offered by the transfer window.
Steve Bruce spent £14m on two new strikers and there was plenty of evidence that they might provide the difference between safety and a relegation struggle for Hull.
Shane Long marked his home debut by putting the Tigers in front with what was Hull's first goal in the Premier League since they thumped six past Fulham at the KC Stadium on December 28.
Tottenham claimed an equaliser 16 minutes into the second half through Paulinho on his return from injury, yet Spurs were never able to impose themselves. After four successive defeats, Hull needed something special from their new combination up front and, after Nikica Jelavic had gone close he combined with Long to give the home side an early lead.
Jelavic set up the chance, flicking the ball over the top after collecting a pass on his chest with his back to goal, allowing Long to run in behind the Spurs defence and beat Hugo Lloris.
Tottenham dominated possession in the second half and, after Harper had kept out one effort from Roberto Soldado, he was unable to deny Paulinho, who found himself in space inside the home penalty area when Danny Rose drove the ball forward from deep, smashing in a vicious shot.
The result left Spurs in sixth place in the table, overtaken by Everton, who visit White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Yet there is clearly a will for Sherwood's way to succeed – one that was put into words succinctly by Bruce.
"He's been given a wonderful opportunity, Tim, and I'm delighted," Bruce said. "They're totally a different team to the one we played under AVB.
"Certainly AVB wouldn't have played like that, with two up top. Whether they're a better team, that's not for me to say. I just know they're different. Tim's philosophy is 'we're going to come here and beat you' and good luck to him. If that's the way he wants to play, it's quite refreshing."
If the challenge facing Sherwood carries a heavy burden of financial rewards to be won or missed, the one confronting Bruce is hardly less daunting as Hull strive to avoid being one of three from at least 10 still facing the possibility of relegation.
Unlike Sherwood, who politely declined his chairman's offer of reinforcements in the January transfer window, Bruce persuaded his to buy Long and Jelavic in the hope that they will provide the goals to help them beat the drop.
"No disrespect to the players we already have but these two are far different from what we had before, adding pace and a bit of quality. Let's hope it works."
Long, who almost joined Hull in September only for former club West Brom to cancel the deal, had scored only three goals in an unsettled last four months at the Hawthorns. But he looked to be brimming with confidence as he took his goal, while Jelavic did not look like a striker without a Premier League goal for 11 months. (© Daily Telegraph, London)