HULL CITY manager Steve Bruce has been in football long enough not to be fazed by daft shows of dissent from his players.
Not even when someone aiming a couple of barbs in his direction was a World Cup winner, as happened once when in charge of Christophe Dugarry at Birmingham City.
So, when Chuba Akpom’s petulant streak got the better of him after being substituted during Wednesday night’s victory over Reading, Bruce was able to ignore the striker’s antics.
The 19-year-old, on hearing he was being replaced by Robert Snodgrass with 17 minutes remaining, initially threw his arms in the air as a clear sign of his discontent.
Then, after stomping past Bruce on the touchline, Akpom threw his gloves to the floor in disgust.
The Arsenal loanee clearly regretted his actions, posting on Twitter a couple of hours after the Reading game: “Let a lot of people down with my reaction, sorry to the fans, staff and club. Emotions got the better of me.”
Bruce, after admitting how disappointed he was at Akpom “disrespecting his team-mates”, insisted the matter was now closed.
“I’ve been in the game long enough to understand that emotions run high and sometimes you make a complete fool of yourself,” said the Hull manager.
“Unfortunately, he did that. I have had World Cup winners throw their gloves at me in the past and then I take a bit of notice.
“But I am not going to take notice of a 19-year-old who, when things don’t go his way, spits his dummy and throws his toys out of the pram.
“I will deal with it in the way I think I should. I have said to him I have got skin like a rhino. That doesn’t bother me at all.”
Akpom’s reaction at being taken off was the only sour note on what, ultimately, proved to be a good night for the Tigers.
In a distinctly lacklustre first half for Hull, Reading, who yesterday confirmed former Leeds United manager Brian McDermott as the club’s new man at the helm, took control, but had just Nick Blackman’s opener to show for their dominance.
Hull, following another half-time talking-to from Bruce, improved massively after the break first equalising through Abel Hernandez and then snatching all three points in the 90th minute when Jake Livermore finished from close range.
The win moved Hull to within two points of Middlesbrough at the summit and set up nicely tomorrow’s trip to Rotherham United.
Moses Odubajo, who has made more starts this term than any other Hull player barring Allan McGregor, said: “The Championship is the sort of league where games can go either way and the Reading one was no different.
“The main thing is we got the three points. We showed some real character and dug deep. In the end, our quality and our individual ability shone through.”
Hull’s first-half stumbles continued a worrying trend for Bruce in recent weeks. As with the trips to Bristol City and Leeds United, the Tigers allowed the opposition to dominate in the opening 45 minutes.
Unlike those trips to Ashton Gate and Elland Road, Bruce’s men were able to make amends against the Royals.
“We did start slowly,” said Odubajo. “Teams come to the KC and see it as their cup final. We have to start dealing with that.
“If we can start the game like we did the second half then we can show teams the door from the get-go. Like we did against Middlesbrough. Same with Ipswich, when we put them out of the game.
“The manager was pretty similar at half-time (against Reading) to how he had been at Leeds.
“When you play a first half like that and especially on TV with everyone watching, it doesn’t look great to the supporters. It wasn’t a great first half, but we turned it round. That is the character we will need.
“The Championship is a grind, playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday and that can be pretty relentless.
“I think the Reading game showed what we are about. We were down and out in the first half but came back to win 2-1.
“For us to win games we didn’t look like winning should hopefully be the thing that gets us promoted.”
Hull are still fourth, but just two points separate Bruce’s men from leaders Boro. This weekend sees the top two go head-to-head at Brighton & Hove Albion so if Hull can make it three wins inside eight days by beating Rotherham it will set the East Yorkshire club up nicely for the busy festive period.
“We have a good number of points but everyone is close together,” added Odubajo. “We just have to keep winning matches, as that will mean we stay with the pack. Rotherham will not be easy. We have to show the same mentality we did in the second half against Reading.
“And go at them gung-ho, hopefully we can scare them off.”