MANAGER Steve Bruce plans to sit down with Hull City’s hierarchy this week before deciding whether to stay at the club following promotion to the Premier League.
The Tigers clinched an instant return to the top flight by beating Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship play-off final.
Mohamed Diame scored the only goal to seal not only promotion but also a guaranteed £200m windfall for the East Riding club.
Bruce, fresh from winning a record-breaking fourth promotion to the Premier League, wants to know how much of that increased revenue will be used for team strengthening.
He also wants to know where the club are at with regards a possible takeover at the KC Stadium, the suggestion being that prospective new owners from America visited the club last month and had a tour of the facilities.
Only after receiving assurances on both these matters will Bruce, who it is believed would have walked away had Hull lost Saturday’s all-Yorkshire play-off final, decide whether to stay at Hull next season.
“I don’t know if I am staying myself yet,” confirmed the 55-year-old to The Yorkshire Post.
“I will have a conversation, as I have done at the end of the last few seasons, about making sure that we are equipped. We will see.
“I have not 100 per cent decided.
“I will think about it and have a chat with my family.
“I will sit down with the powers that be and see where the club wants to go, see what it wants to do. If there is a takeover, I need to know about it.
“A takeover usually means a new broom. I am in a strong position, but in football you can’t take anything for granted, you just can’t.
“Sixty managers were sacked this year. I will just have to see what happens. It is not health or anything like that. This job is what I do. I am just wary that this has been a long and difficult season for many, many reasons.”
Bruce tendered his resignation a year ago after Hull’s relegation had been confirmed but Assem and Ehab Allam, the club’s owners, talked him round.
His four-year reign has been unquestionably the most successful in the club’s history. Two promotions to the Premier League have come either side of an FA Cup final appearance and a first foray into Europe.
Despite that, Bruce has come in for criticism from supporters at times during what he insists has been “the most difficult season of my career”.
He found the final few weeks of the campaign hard, as the fractious relationship between fans and the board reared up again following the introduction of a controversial new membership scheme.
Bruce, as was the case during the failed attempt to rebrand as Hull Tigers, has had to deal with the fall-out and it is understood this has taken its toll.
Premier League football, of course, is a huge incentive to stay, and there is every chance this could sway the former Manchester United captain’s ultimate decision.
“The team needs lots of investment,” added Bruce when asked about what challenges the Premier League will bring.
“I don’t know how much but the money sloshing about is there for all to see. We are certainly better off as a team than last time. But we do have six out of contract, three of which (Tom Huddlestone, Ahmed Elmohamady and Eldin Jakupovic) played in the final. That is the first thing that needs sorting out.”
Time will be of the essence for Hull, who are a couple of weeks behind the other 19 Premier League clubs in terms of preparations for next season.
Transfer targets will have to be identified and plans finalised. The new £8.3bn TV deal that kicks in will help massively in respect of them getting those deals over the line. It will also help safeguard Hull’s financial future, underlining just how much was at stake going into the clash with Wednesday.
“This club was at a crossroads ahead of this final,” added Bruce. “It was massive. There are all these rumours of takeovers and so on.
“If we hadn’t have gone up, it would have been very, very difficult (for the club), I firmly believe that.
“This year has been tough. We weren’t really able to get to work until the (transfer) window closed (last September).
“Everyone wanted to jump ship because they want to play in the Premier League. Thankfully, we held on to five or six. Don’t get me wrong, they found it difficult in the Championship. “Diame is one of them. If he hadn’t been injured last summer, he probably wouldn’t have been here. He has had a difficult time getting over that knee injury. But for all that hard work he did, getting the winner was repayment of that.”
Hull’s joy was in stark contrast to the frustration felt by Wednesday at the final whistle. Despite tremendous backing from the stands, the Owls were a pale shadow of the side that had so impressed under Carlos Carvalhal during the regular season.
“Hull City deserved to win the game,” said the Owls’ Portuguese head coach. “They were better than us over 90 minutes.
“We did our best and tried to play our football. But we did not play in the final like we usually play. We have played better than this in the season. We have experienced players. We just didn’t play the way we usually play offensively. We didn’t create too many problems for Hull City.”
Report and reaction: Pages 2-5