Bruce challenges Tigers to take fight to final day

CONSIDERING how results have gone against Hull City in recent weeks, the doomsday scenario of relegation being confirmed before the final day of the season has to be taken seriously.

Hull City manager Steve Bruce.

The Tigers travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday and while even defeat in that penultimate fixture cannot tip Steve Bruce’s men into the Championship, there is a chance that by Wednesday May 20 the game will be up.

For that to happen, Hull – two points adrift following the dispiriting defeat at home to Burnley – must fail to win at White Hart Lane.

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Then, a Newcastle United victory at already doomed Queens Park Rangers would take John Carver’s men to safety.

Leicester City would also be safe if they beat Sunderland, whose own chance to bury Hull for good would then come the following midweek with the club’s game in hand at Arsenal.

A worrying scenario, especially as the past two weekends have seen every single result go against Hull as they were being beaten by the Gunners and the Clarets.

Bruce is determined that his side ensure the fight for survival goes to the very last day, when Manchester United are the visitors to the KC Stadium.

“We still need a couple of results,” said the 54-year-old after taking training yesterday. “Who knows? One might be enough.

“We have got to make sure we make a fight of it down at Tottenham, make a fist of staying alive.

“We have to make sure we take it to the last day against Manchester United.

“Who knows what will happen then? We saw strange results again at the weekend.

“Teams expected to win didn’t and the bottom teams are winning. Leicester, in particular, produced another win that was quite remarkable.”

Hull’s two recent losses came after back-to-back wins over Crystal Palace and Liverpool that seemed to have taken Yorkshire’s sole top-flight representative clear of trouble.

So much so, in fact, that the bookmakers were offering odds of 12-1 against Hull being relegated in the wake of that win over Brendan Rodgers’s men.

The losses to Arsenal and Burnley – the first expected, the second a dreadful disappointment – were bad enough but it was results involving the Tigers’ rivals that have done the real damage.

Only Newcastle, who stopped an eight-game losing run with a draw at home to West Bromwich Albion, have struggled for results lately.

Sunderland, for instance, have beaten Southampton and Everton over the last two weekends, while Leicester have claimed an incredible 18 points from a possible 21.

Only champions Chelsea prevented the Foxes from winning all of their last seven fixtures.

Aston Villa have also returned to the winning trail and the upshot was Hull falling back into the relegation zone on Saturday for the first time in almost two months.

If the Tigers are to escape, it is paramount they take at least a draw from the trip to White Hart Lane.

Spurs are out of form, as was underlined in last weekend’s woeful showing at Stoke City. But the London club still have an impressive recent record against Hull with four wins from seven meetings in the Premier League and only one defeat.

Manchester United, meanwhile, have won all seven meetings with Hull in the top flight.

The only positive that Bruce can possibly take from facing his old club on a potentially decisive final day is that Champions League qualification was all but secured last Sunday following fifth-placed Liverpool’s draw at Stamford Bridge.

The bottom line, of course, is that the Tigers are in such a perilous position that they must help themselves and can no longer rely on others.

“We won back-to-back games and gave ourselves a wonderful chance,” said Bruce when asked about whether the results of his rivals in recent weeks had come as a surprise.

“But it doesn’t surprise me (that others are winning) because people and teams who have nothing to play for find it very difficult to get motivated and picked up.

“You see results that don’t really go with the form book. Tottenham lost by three (at Stoke) and you wouldn’t have expected that.”

As Hull head to north London this weekend, Villa travel to Southampton as Sunderland host Leicester and Newcastle take on QPR at Loftus Road.

The final weekend, meanwhile, see the Foxes host Burnley, Newcastle take on West Ham at St James’ Park and Tim Sherwood’s Cup finalists meet Burnley at Villa Park.

York City have parted company with assistant manager Steve Torpey.

The ex-Scunthorpe United striker was promoted following Nigel Worthington’s appointment as manager in March 2013.

Prior to that, Torpey had spent four and a half years in charge of youth-team affairs at Bootham Crescent.