Rotherham United v Hull City: Poor starts need to stop, insists frustrated Tigers boss Steve Bruce

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce.
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ALMOST the entire length of the Championship may separate Hull City and Rotherham United at the moment but the clubs’ two managers had one thing in common this week.

Namely, being distinctly unhappy with how their respective sides performed in the first half of their last game. Neil Redfearn described Rotherham’s efforts at Huddersfield Town on Tuesday night as “shocking”, an assessment that pretty much summed up how Hull City performed in the opening 45 minutes the following night at home to Reading.

In that instance, the Tigers made up for that lacklustre effort by hitting back to triumph 2-1, but Steve Bruce admits to being concerned at what has become a trend for his side in recent weeks.

“Let’s be fair,” said Bruce, “Since the international break we haven’t played anywhere near the level we were at before it. And when we have, it has been in fits and starts. We were excellent against Leeds in the second half, we were very good in the second half at Bristol City as well.

“And we were the same against Reading after half-time. But we have got to stop this second-half nonsense and we have got to start better.

“If we produce what we produced in the second half for the full game against Rotherham then we will be fine. But if we don’t and we go in with this lacklustre approach – which unfortunately has crept in – we are going to be in for a long afternoon.

“That is what we have got to eradicate. We haven’t been doing enough from the start of games, we haven’t done the basics. It is a mind-set, it must be. Either way, though, it is not healthy for us.

“I might change the warm-up on a Saturday, who knows? But the first-half performances have left a lot to be desired.”

Other concerns for Bruce right now centre on the upcoming transfer window, with Curtis Davies the latest to be linked with a possible move – this time for £3m to Bournemouth.

The City manager added: “I have certainly had no conversations with anyone regarding Curtis and Bournemouth so I am not sure how true it is.

“There is a dilemma there for any player who is out of contract in the summer, but why would you risk £3m against £130m or whatever it’s worth to go up?

“The answer to that is pretty straightforward. I really can’t see it. Why would we risk it, especially with (Michael) Dawson and Alex (Bruce) missing.”