CONFIDENT Hull City will begin their latest Premier League odyssey with manager Steve Bruce adamant there is no reason why they cannot now deliver longevity in the elite division.
Although the promoted side’s opening task tomorrow – a trip to Chelsea as Jose Mourinho makes his own celebrated return to English football – could not be much tougher, the Tigers chief has a clear vision of the bigger picture.
Hull, of course, were relegated amid financial meltdown and a raft of ill-fated decisions in 2010 just two years after making their only previous insurgence into the upper echelons of the game.
But now, with the subsequent intervention of the Allam family and under Bruce’s command, the East Yorkshire club should be far better placed to handle the various pitfalls of transition.
“The Premier League is the real deal and to be part of it again was the reason I came here in the first place,” said the charismatic manager, having joined only last summer and swiftly spearheaded elevation from the Championship.
“I didn’t think it would happen as quickly but we’re there again. My aim is for us to make a better fist of it than we did last time.
“I want to stay here for six, seven, eight years if we possibly can.
“If a club like Wigan can do it, why not us with a bit of shrewd investment and good fortune?”
Bruce makes a valid point and his recruitment over the summer, especially with the late addition of Tottenham’s England midfielders Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore, is testimony to the plans they have in place.
His own experience of the top flight should be crucial, too, given the wily 52 year-old has spent more than a decade there, even if his last taste with Sunderland ended sourly.
“You need strength and character but also you need to be physically strong,” added the decorated former Manchester United defender, who regularly kept both unfancied Birmingham and Wigan competitive in the top tier against all the odds.
“You look at the signings we’ve brought in and we look more powerful.
“The big thing you need, though, is ability. The players we’ve brought in we feel can help us cope. Let’s be fair, it is unforgiving. I was looking at the Chelsea squad this week and it’s mouth-watering. Its fantastic.
“We’ve got Man City two weeks after that but in between it’s a Norwich side who have also invested heavily to stay in the division.
“I’ve had to be a little creative and shrewd. We’ve been working to a budget because we don’t want to send the club into turmoil again.
“This year has been more difficult because of the money involved. Even compared to three years ago we’re talking staggering amounts of money.”
Chelsea, with the incomparable Mourinho back at the helm for the first time since 2007 and a squad awash with talent, are formidable foes but there will be no hesitancy from the visitors.
“The Jose factor just gives it another ‘wow’ factor,” continued Bruce.
“I’m delighted he’s back because we need people like him.
“Let’s give him credit too, it’s remarkable what he’s done. Not just at Chelsea, he’s done it in Italy and Spain.
“Mourinho brings certain standards. You can’t argue against him. Whether it’s Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan or Real Madrid, he wins things.
“I’m sure they will be there or thereabouts and I’m sure Man United will know they’re a threat. With Mourinho coming back, it cranks it all up again.
“If we needed a wake-up call to what the Premier League is all about then we’ll find out Sunday.
“Stamford Bridge is going to be packed to the rafters and the interest in it is remarkable because of Jose.
“We couldn’t have wanted a bigger test or a bigger challenge.
“All of those dark, horrible nights in the Championship, let’s hope days like this make up for it.”
Bruce has been in the position of new arrival before having orchestrated Birmingham’s return to the Premier League.
“We lost 2-0 at Arsenal in my first game back up with them but the big thing for Birmingham was that we’d had four or five years up there before,” he recalled.
“When I took over at Wigan we were bottom of the league but from one January to the next I think we took 60 odd points. That’s not relegation form, it’s European form.
“It can be done but we’ve got to have a bit of luck.
“Cardiff are the 47th team to have competed in the Premier League in 22 years and only eight have been in there for all that time.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how difficult it has been for the rest.
“We’re here, let’s enjoy it, and see if we can make a real fist of it.
“My job is to make sure we keep the spirits high as we will get beat.
“Last year was easy because we had momentum and belief. It’s going to be more difficult this time.”
On his own return to the top table, after some would say harshly being sacked by Sunderland in November 2011, Bruce added: “I’ve missed it. I’ve been fortunate because there’s not many British managers who have done 10 years in the Premier League.
“You take a big pride about that and if you’ve got anything about you, it’s where you want to be.
“I’m delighted to be back. You miss the big time but it’s back again.
“It’s going to be remarkably difficult but I’m looking forward to it immensely and we’ll enjoy it.
“One of my coaches said there’s been a crackle about the place and he was right.”