STEVE BRUCE was pipped for the Championship manager of the month award by Brentford’s Lee Carsley, but Aitor Karanka believes that the Hull City chief is a Premier League boss in all but name.
Bruce’s Hull side lock horns with Middlesbrough in East Yorkshire tomorrow at an expectant KC Stadium, set to house a 20,000-plus crowd for the first time this season against another high-flying outfit in Boro.
Karanka has been mightily impressed by the sterling reconstruction job that Bruce has been orchestrating following the Tigers’ relegation and says Boro – whose assistant manager Steve Agnew makes his first return to the KC since leaving last term – will have their work cut out despite winning their last three matches and knocking Manchester United out of the Capital One Cup.
Karanka said: “It’s a big game against one of the perfect teams in the league.
“For me, they are still a Premier League team as they still have most of the same players and the same manager.
“He (Bruce) is a very good manager who is very experienced so it is going to be a good test for us.
“He is one of the best managers in the league. He was an amazing football player and has done really well in management.
“The team is representing the manager and he’s a Premier League manager.”
Despite presiding over an unbeaten October, which saw Hull take 13 points from a possible 15, the monthly Championship gong went to Carsley.
The Brentford chief, whose side were beaten 2-0 by the Tigers on Tuesday night, had led the Bees to four successive league wins prior to that, repairing the damage done in the ill-fated regime of Marinus Dijkhuizen.
The Dutchman became the first Championship managerial casualty of the campaign when he was sacked in September.
Also in the running for the award along with Bruce and Carsley were Burnley manager Sean Dyche and Derby County head coach Paul Clement, whose side also went unbeaten during October.