Bruce backed as Hull City owners take relegation on the chin

SWEET MEMORIES: Hull City manager Steve Bruce, centre, with owners Ehab Allam, left and Dr Assem Allam.
SWEET MEMORIES: Hull City manager Steve Bruce, centre, with owners Ehab Allam, left and Dr Assem Allam.
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EHAB ALLAM admits last May’s relegation was “difficult to take” following the unprecedented spending of the previous summer.

But the Tigers vice-chairman also insists Steve Bruce is the right man to lead the recovery.

“If you look at the clubs who finished around us in the Premier League last season,” says Allam, “we had a much bigger spend.

“The next highest spend to our £43m from those around us was in single figures. It is difficult to take a relegation after spending so much on decent players, both last season and the year before.

“We had a decent strike force, a decent midfield and a decent defence. It was disappointing to go down because we felt, as owners in particular, that we had done all we could.

“We had backed the manager to the hilt. It was disappointing but we take it on the chin. That is the nature of the game.

“Now, we have to look at ways to make improvements and then go again. That is the position the club is in now and, importantly, we feel to have a good manager.

“Steve has got us promoted in the past and I see no reason why we can’t have similar success in the future.”

Bruce has form for leading a club straight back up, having been the manager who took Birmingham City into the Premier League just 12 months after relegation.

Finances, of course, have changed markedly since then, as Allam concedes.

“Steve did go straight back up with Birmingham,” he said. “But the dynamic of football management has changed in the past eight years, it is a totally different landscape.

“If you did some form of financial analysis on things, I would guess you would find a big disparity on what the top three spent and then the fourth, fifth and so on.

“Now, there is very little disparity between the top eight. But I don’t see why we wouldn’t have just as good a chance as any, especially as we have a good manager and can, hopefully, retain the core of the squad.”

Much to the frustration of supporters, Hull’s recruitment started slowly this summer.

Allam, however, points to three years ago and the promotion-winning campaign for an indication as to how patience can pay off.

“A lot of our signings came towards the end of the transfer window,” says the Hull vice-chairman ahead of the season opening a week today at home to Huddersfield Town.

“(Ahmed) Elmohamady and (David) Meyler came on loan at the end of the summer, for example.

“They helped us through. (Robbie) Brady was on loan but we purchased him in the January. (George) Boyd also came in along with Gedo in January.

“So, it is not make or break if you don’t do anything in July. It is a long window and there is a long way to go.”

The flipside of there still being a month until the window closes at 5pm on September 1 is that Hull continue to be susceptible to interest in their own players from other clubs – and particularly those from Europe’s top divisions – keen on triggering the same kind of release clause that allowed Derby County to snap up Tom Ince earlier this summer when Bruce wanted the winger to stay at the KC Stadium.

“Several players have release clauses in their contracts,” said Allam, now back in situ at the Tigers after a short break that followed the club’s attempt to re-brand being rejected by the Football Association last month.

“(Dame) N’Doye has one, (Abel) Hernandez has one, a couple in midfield. They wouldn’t have come in without them, unfortunately. That is the way of the world.

“I personally don’t like release clauses. We have been bitten with Ince already this summer. Why was there a clause? There was a clause because he wanted one. And once a clause is triggered, it becomes difficult.

“Hindsight is wonderful in life. But, at the time, we wanted the players and that was a condition to get them here.

“In future, I will make damn sure we don’t sign people if they won’t accept our stance. If they want a release clause in a contract, they will have to go somewhere else.”