AS the draw for the Europa League group stages took place yesterday in Monaco, Hull City fans could only look on with a mixture of envy and frustration.
The Tigers had fallen at the final hurdle of qualifying the previous evening, dreams of an extended run in Europe having been dashed on the away goals rule by Belgian Cup holders KSC Lokeren.
Those feelings of disappointment were then enflamed when UEFA confirmed that Hull would have taken the place of Estoril in pot three of the draw and the Portuguese club drew PSV Eindhoven, Dynamo Moscow and Panathinaikos.
For Liam Rosenior, the sense of dejection felt at Hull missing out was every bit as acute as that of the supporters who had relished the chance to watch their team in competitive action on the continent.
However, while fans may consider the trips to Slovakia and Belgium in the past month to have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, the Hull full-back insists this season’s first foray into Europe will not be the club’s last.
“I would say devastating is the best way of summing up the night,” said Rosenior when asked about what the dressing room was like after Thursday night’s exit. “We were all desperate to get through to the group stages.
“Everyone is gutted that it didn’t happen, especially in the manner of how we went out on away goals. But for all that disappointment, I am sure the direction the club is heading in will mean there are many, many more nights like this in the future.
“We will get European football back here in the future. I honestly believe that. Just look at how the club has grown in a short space of time and the additions that the manager continues to make, we will keep going forward.
“Same for the owners. They will keep driving us forward and I am sure, in the future, that there will be many, many days when the fans can look forward to European games.”
Rosenior’s belief that a return to European action is not beyond Hull is fuelled by the ambitious recruitment that has seen Bruce spend around £25m with further additions planned before Monday’s deadline.
A club record £10m deal to sign Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez from Palermo is agreed with Bruce hoping work permit issues can be sorted in time for the 24-year-old to be included in the squad to face Aston Villa.
Liverpool and Sunderland have previously been linked with a striker who flew into Hull earlier this week and is eager to make his mark in the Premier League.
Enquiries have also been made about Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley and Mo Diame of West Ham as the Tigers look to build a squad capable of consolidating the club’s Premier League status.
Being knocked out of the Europa League after the Lokeren game finished 2-2 on aggregate has not affected Hull’s recruitment.
It is this that leads Rosenior, the club’s longest-serving player after joining in 2010, to believe that further successful times lie ahead.
That said, the full-back admits the frustration at missing out on the group stages this term will take some time to get over.
“A few decisions went against us on the night,” he said, “and, in the end, they proved crucial. We were in a perfect position to push on and felt really comfortable in the game.
“Once Robbie (Brady) put us in front again with the penalty, I felt sure we would go on and win the tie. With 11 men, it would have been different.
“Knowing that just adds to the frustration, as did the handball at the end. Nikica Jelavic was certain their man handled the ball as it was going in. He said it was clear as day.”