PAUL MCSHANE has “made peace with the past” to earn a Premier League return after admitting he thought his days with Hull City were over.
The 29-year-old, the Tigers’ longest serving player after first playing for the club in 2008, had a much-publicised fall-out with Steve Bruce late last year and was made to train with the juniors.
McShane, whom Bruce felt had broken the club’s discipline code, further incensed the City manager by making the spat public via Twitter and there seemed no way back for the Republic of Ireland international.
However, after apologising to the Hull squad and his manager, McShane was one of 10 changes in last month’s FA Cup third round exit at Arsenal.
Even that, though, was not expected to herald a return to Premier League action only for the defender to be handed a surprise recall against champions Manchester City.
McShane responded in fine fashion, playing a key role in a super defensive display that came within two minutes of earning the Tigers a shock victory.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I would play again (for Hull),” said McShane, who was linked with several moves during the January transfer window.
“But there is always hope and that is what I did. Football can change so quickly, I have seen that in all my years in the game.
“You have to stay ready. Personally, it felt good (against Manchester City). I had been keeping myself fit, staying ready because when you go a long time without playing and then get thrown into a game like that then you can be found wanting.”
Asked if the spat with Bruce was behind the pair, McShane replied: “You can’t hold grudges in football. It is such a short career and you never know what is going to happen next. You have got to make peace with the past when you move forward. That is what I will do.”
McShane’s appearance against the champions was only his fifth league start this term and his first since the 1-0 defeat at Burnley on November 8.
Frustration at not playing a more active role has been behind McShane’s disaffection and Bruce admits to having sympathy. “It wasn’t a difficult decision to put Paul back in,” said the Tigers manager, who is believed to be wanted by Fulham to mastermind a promotion push.
“With Paul McShane – and I said this to him on day one – you always know what you are going to get. The problem with Paul is he becomes a young, angry man when he is not playing and, unfortunately, he can’t control himself. I can fully understand that.
“I left the biggest club in the world because I got dropped for a Cup final so I know exactly where he comes from but I can only pick 11 and that’s the most difficult part.”
The XI that Bruce sent out at the Etihad certainly did him proud, producing a disciplined and dogged performance that came so close to pulling off one of the season’s big shocks.
Hull deservedly led at half-time and were still in front as the game moved into a third minute of stoppage time.
Then, though, James Milner, whose arrival from the bench had brought some much-needed urgency to the hosts, stepped up and curled an exquisite free-kick round the wall and beyond the outstretched hand of Allan McGregor.
It was a strike worthy of winning a game, never mind rescuing a point. For Hull, however, it was a disappointing end to what had otherwise been a wonderful afternoon and a match that had done much to restore belief that Bruce’s men have the determination to get out of trouble.
From the opening exchanges, the Tigers snapped and snarled at their illustrious hosts. Missing Yaya Toure on international duty, the Blues were quickly knocked out of their stride and the upshot was a first half that saw Hull create the better chances.
One of those was taken, David Meyler smashing a shot past Joe Hart after a crazy 20 or so seconds that had seen the Blues’ defence escape twice before finally being breached.
A dart forward by Robbie Brady started the move, his slide-rule pass intended for Sone Aluko being only half-cleared by Martin Demichelis to Jake Livermore.
The Hull midfielder then brought a flying save from Hart, who had rashly dashed out in an attempt to intercept Brady’s pass.
As the ball broke, Gaston Ramirez and Demichelis competed for possession and the Uruguayan, getting the better of the challenge, saw it arrow towards the post.
Meyler, quick as a flash, gambled and was on hand to fire in past the stranded Hart.
Going ahead was no more than the Tigers deserved, with Ahmed Elmohamady having headed against the bar when he should have scored.
Ramirez also brought a save from Hart in the opening 45 minutes, while the closest the home side came to making a breakthrough was when Samir Nasri was prevented from shooting by wonderful tackles from, first, Brady and then Alex Bruce.
City did improve after the restart and McGregor brilliantly tipped Edin Dzeko’s volley wide before Alex Bruce was fortunate to get away with pushing David Silva to the floor inside the area.
As the pressure grew, Hull’s resolve grew by similar proportions and when Aguero hit the underside of the crossbar a minute from time it seemed that the visitors had done enough.
Then, though, Milner stepped up to finally breach the Tigers’ backline and deny the Yorkshire club a first win away from home against Manchester City in 85 years.
Bruce, who after hosting Villa tomorrow night are next in action against fellow strugglers QPR at the KC, added: “I know we are good enough to stay up. And we have got a big game on Tuesday now.
“We have been better away from home all season – it is ridiculous really – so let us hope we can go and produce a couple of performances at home.”