Bruce pays tribute to longevity of Palace chief Warnock

Neil Warnock.

Neil Warnock.

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Steve Bruce is not sure whether, at 65, he will have the enthusiasm or the hunger to be put through the emotional wringer that is football management.

Which is why the Hull City manager is full of admiration for Neil Warnock who, despite having reached the age where he qualifies for a free bus pass, recently took on the task of succeeding Tony Pulis at Crystal Palace.

“I have always got on well with Neil,” said Bruce, who will celebrate his 54th birthday on New Year’s Eve. “He is a football man who has done very, very well.

“He has got a wonderful record as a manager. Seven promotions, isn’t it? Neil is a wise old head at a time when the world was supposed to be falling apart for Palace (following Pulis’s exit).

“When you look at it, it was an inspired choice from their chairman. You want someone with experience. A couple of years ago, it was all about the young managers.

“Tony did a wonderful job there but Neil, with his know-how and experience, seems to have settled in quickly. They seem exactly how they were and added to that they have brought a couple of players in who have improved them.”

Warnock, who has made more comebacks than Frank Sinatra after describing every job since Sheffield United as his “last in football”, was tempted out of retirement in late August by the prospect of taking charge at Selhurst Park for a second time.

With seven promotions on his CV – a tally only Dave Bassett and Graham Taylor can match – the former Blades chief was always going to bring a wealth of experience to the London club and he has made an immediate impact.

Eight points from his first four league games at the helm is ample proof of that.

Bruce added: “Neil has got this way where players want to play for him. He might be a bit unorthodox and a bit like Marmite, but that is just his character.

“At 65, he has still got that enthusiasm, hunger and desire to still keep marching on. Whether I will still be doing it at 65 is another matter, but I can understand him wanting to come back.

“He had a year away, did all the media work but then he has obviously thought, ‘Why not?’

“Football is the only thing I have ever done so never say never, but I would say it is highly unlikely I will be a manager by then.”

A more pressing concern for Bruce than his longevity in the game is Hull’s need to keep a clean sheet.

Since beating Queens Park Rangers 1-0 on the opening day of the season, Hull have conceded 11 times in five Premier League games. This leaking backline is why the Tigers sit fifth bottom and Bruce has warned his players things have to change.

“Was it 15 clean sheets we kept last year?” he said. “We probably got the same amount the year before, maybe more. So we have got to find that again.

“There has been a big turnaround in personnel and there is a difference about us. Maybe we are a little too expansive at the minute.

“We have to try and find the balance. The one thing where we struggled last year was scoring goals.

“I don’t think we scored 11 goals until Christmas. It is Sod’s law the way it is working out this time.”

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