STEVE BRUCE insists Hull City will have an “outstanding” chance of staying in the Premier League if they can beat Manchester United on the final day.
The Tigers are odds-on to go down after a damaging run of three straight defeats, the most recent of which came last Saturday at Tottenham Hotspur.
This slump in form has left Hull 18th in the table and two points adrift of Newcastle United. It is also why even victory at home to the Red Devils on Sunday may not be enough with Bruce’s men also needing the Magpies to drop points at home to West Ham United on the final day.
Bruce, however, is adamant that if his side do their job and claim a first win over United since 1974 then safety is likely to be assured.
He said: “We have to go and look to win the game because if we do that I am sure we will give ourselves an almighty chance.
“I have said all along that 34 wouldn’t be enough but if we get to 37, with our goal difference, we have got an outstanding chance.
“We just have to make sure we do our job on the day.”
Hull’s return of eight points from the last 10 games is an ample illustration of why Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative are deep in trouble.
It is, though, vastly superior to that of Newcastle, the only team Hull can catch following Sunderland’s goalless draw at Arsenal on Wednesday night.
Under John Carver, the North East club have taken just one point from a possible 30.
That came at home to West Bromwich Albion a little under a fortnight ago and Bruce believes West Ham, managed by his good friend – and former Newcastle chief – Sam Allardyce, can do his side a massive favour.
“Newcastle will have a big, baying crowd that will be anxious,” said the Tigers’ manager. “And if we were able to get ahead, that would make a difference.
“Funny things happen on the final day of the season. In some ways, it reminds me of the time we played Cardiff (in 2013). The stakes are just as big this time. We can only do our bit and hope it will be enough.”
That final-day meeting with Cardiff City two years ago ended happily for the Tigers.
Needing to win to clinch automatic promotion behind the Welsh club, Hull drew 2-2 in a pulsating contest that saw Nick Proschwitz miss a stoppage-time penalty that was followed by Cardiff racing up the other end to win their own spot-kick.
With the KC Stadium crowd only able to watch helplessly, Nicky Maynard stroked home the penalty to equalise and leave the Tigers sweating on the result of Watford’s home match with Leeds United.
A Hornets triumph would have been enough to pip Hull to second place, but a contest that was 15 minutes behind the game at the KC following a serious injury to home goalkeeper Jonathan Bond was locked at 1-1.
Bruce, the Hull players and a capacity KC crowd could only wait anxiously for the Watford game to finish and it was not until Ross McCormack netted a late winner that the promotion party was able to get under way in the East Riding.
“You’ve no choice but to be kept up to date with how things are going elsewhere,” said Bruce when asked about 2013.
“Mind, I remember on that occasion someone told me Watford were 2-0 up so it is not always right.
“The news inevitably seeps through to you but, truly, it is about what we do. We have got to strike a balance in how we play. You can’t be gung-ho against Manchester United. We have got to be well-organised and hard working.
“Do you open up and play a bit more expansive or does that run the risk of Manchester United running riot?”
Hull’s history lesson: Page 22.