MANAGER Steve Bruce last night refused to use Hull City’s growing injury list as an excuse for their second-half capitulation against West Ham United.
Goals from Andy Carroll, Morgan Amalfitano and Stewart Downing condemned the Tigers to an 11th defeat of the season.
Hull had dominated the first 45 minutes, but a failure to take even one of several gilt-edged chances came back to haunt the Yorkshire side in a second half that saw the Hammers run out comfortable winners.
Bruce, already without £17m strike duo Abel Hernandez and Nikica Jelavic plus a host of first team players, lost James Chester for up to three months with a dislocated shoulder and Alex Bruce to a pulled thigh.
Despite that, the Hull manager was adamant that those injuries should not be allowed to deflect from what was a desperately poor second-half display by his side.
He said: “I don’t want to make an excuse over injuries. In the first half, we didn’t look like a team with eight injuries.
“The second half was awful. We gifted three horrible goals. That isn’t like us. We pride ourselves on the opposition having to earn any goals against us.
“But those goals were awful. That was the frustrating thing for us. That is why I don’t want to use injuries as an excuse. It would be too easy to say it disrupted us. But, in the second half we simply weren’t good enough and we have to accept that.”
A calamitous error by Allan McGregor gifted West Ham the lead just after half-time, but before that opener it had been the visitors who had dominated.
Sone Aluko wasted two excellent openings, and Ahmed Elmohamady shot wide when it seemed easier to hit the target during a first half that saw Hull make a mockery of being down to the bare bones.
Bruce added: “We have invested heavily in strikers but, unfortunately they are not there to take the chances we created against West Ham.
“‘Elmo’ had a wonderful opportunity. But that was one of several we had in that first half.
“If we had made the right pass on other occasions as well, we could have had six, seven or eight opportunities.
“There wasn’t much wrong with how we played in the first half. But, after that, we were very disappointing.
“When you have that much control of a game, you have to score. But we didn’t and then the second half was awful by us.” Due to being out of the FA Cup, Hull are not in action again until January 31 when Newcastle United come to the KC Stadium for a lunchtime kick-off.
Bruce hopes to use the blank weekend not only to appoint an assistant manager, but also get some of his injured stars fit.
He will be keeping a close eye on the transfer market, too, though the Hull chief was yesterday at pains to stress that weekend reports of a £4.5m bid being made for Blackburn Rovers striker Rudy Gestede were well wide of the mark.
“I have never made a bid,” said Bruce. “We have never made a bid. I don’t know where that story came from.
“We did have a conversation with them (Blackburn), but that’s it. Apparently, an agent made a bid on our behalf. That was news to me and to my owner.
“As far as I am concerned, I don’t know where the story came from. He didn’t even play yesterday (for Blackburn). I can confirm we did not bid £4.5m and we won’t be doing so.”
On his search for a new assistant following Steve Agnew’s move to Middlesbrough at the start of this month, Bruce added: “I wouldn’t say we are close to getting an assistant. I have two or three people to see this week.
“Along with that, we will spend the next two weeks putting some work into those (players) that need work.
“We hope that in a couple of weeks’ time we can get a few back (from injury) and give everyone the lift we need.”
Hull’s defeat at Upton Park was in keeping with what was a largely wretched weekend for Yorkshire football. Only Middlesbrough and Doncaster won and they were both taking on White Rose opposition.
Of the rest, Leeds United rescued a point at home to Birmingham City, but Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham both joined Huddersfield Town in losing a Championship fixture.
In League One, both Bradford City and Sheffield United lost, while York City’s survival hopes in the basement division suffered a blow when Stevenage won 2-0 at Bootham Crescent as several of the Minstermen’s rivals claimed all three points.