Hull City: Tigers getting up to speed as they banish hangover, says Aluko

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FOR Steve Bruce, the closure of the summer transfer window cannot come soon enough.

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With several of his first-choice players being coveted by other clubs – 15 Premier League scouts were at the KC Stadium’s opening game of the season – the Tigers manager admits his biggest fear is that one or more will be spirited away so late that he has little chance to bring in adequate replacements.

It is an understandable concern and why Bruce, whose existing squad looks as strong as any in the Championship, is nervous every time his telephone rings.

For the players themselves, however, the only concern is continuing a start that has brought seven points from three games and a place in the Capital One Cup second round.

“I don’t think the uncertainty affects the players too much,” said Sone Aluko, scorer of City’s late winner on Wednesday night at home to Fulham. “It is the nature of football, as players we get used to players coming in and players going out.

“That is the game. Our job is to go out on to the pitch and execute the game-plan and get the results. Against Fulham, that happened.”

Aluko and his team-mates are, indeed, doing their bit at this early stage of the season. City head to Charlton Athletic tomorrow sitting second in the fledgling table and with fears of any lingering hangover from last season’s relegation easing.

“The Championship is a tough league,” said the striker, who is into the final year of his contract at the KC.

“It is a couple of years since we were last here and the pace of the games, in terms of playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday, is the big thing to adapt to.

“We need to get up to speed with the rhythm of the schedule. If we do that, then we will get even better as the season goes along.

“A good start was important, especially after what happened last season. It builds confidence and belief, something we needed. When you get relegated, you are there to be shot at.

“Teams coming down from the Premier League are targets. They want to show they are better than these guys. We were aware of that so getting back to a winning habit was important.

“To get a couple of early wins, it has been pleasing.”

The late victory over Fulham means City are unbeaten after three games of a season for the first time since 2001.

Considering the Tigers won just 18 times in 76 Premier League outings over the previous two years, it was clear the mindset of the squad had to change and quickly.

“It is a big change this season, in that we are expected to win most weeks,” added Aluko. “Or we need to win, at least. We came through pre-season unbeaten and that was a big thing for me.

“After every game, the lads would be saying, ‘We have to get that winning habit back and quickly’. Teams see us as a big fish to catch. But seven points from nine is a good start and that points tally across the entire season would be enough to get us up.”

In all three of the club’s league outings this term, Hull have had spells on top. Wednesday’s first half was perhaps the most dominant Bruce’s men have been, which is what made their subsequent struggles after the restart such a shock.

Aluko ensured the dip in performance levels after the break did not prove too costly with his 86th-minute winner. “It was a good feeling to both start and score,” he said.

“I always want to play. A lot of my performance was down to the energy at being back in the starting line-up. Adrenaline was flowing and I was happy with my performance, even before the winner.

“We have to win our home games and the most important thing about Wednesday night was we did just that. Fulham are a good team and have a lot of qualities. They were never going to lie down for the whole game but we got the win we wanted.”