AS tomorrow’s opponents Leeds United last night revealed a major financial downturn over the past 12 months, Steve Bruce hinted that concerns over Hull City’s own goalscoring figures could mean another chance for big-money summer signing Nick Proschwitz.
The Tigers go into the derby clash at the KC Stadium sitting second in the Championship table with 45 points from 24 games.
Such a return is impressive by any standards, but Bruce admits to still being concerned that his side has let the opposition off the hook several times already this season by failing to convert a glut of chances when on top.
With the East Yorkshire club’s tally of 35 goals being the lowest in the top six, the Tigers manager fears goalscoring could yet prove to be his side’s “Achilles heel” this term.
Adding to these concerns is Hull’s first-choice striker Simpson having netted just five league goals – and only one since September – to leave Bruce admitting the time may have come to restore £2.6m capture Proschwitz to the line-up.
Bruce said: “I thought we had the best chances against Leicester, but we have to be scoring when those chances come along and it is frustrating.
“Jay going round the goalkeeper and Abdoulaye Faye’s header – those are chances we have to take in the big games. We haven’t quite been clinical enough.
“The best chances were ours against a very well-organised team who got everyone behind the ball. Leicester were another team who came to the KC and played one up front.
“I can’t remember the last time we played against a team with two strikers. When teams defend like they do against us, that becomes difficult and we have to take those chances.
“That is why strikers get paid all the money, I suppose. To be fair to Nick, who hasn’t really had a chance, maybe now in the winter months it is his turn.”
Proschwitz has had a frustrating start to life in English football following his summer switch from SC Paderborn.
He started the first four games but was then dropped to the bench and has featured just once in the starting line-up – in October’s 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough – since then and has only two goals to his name.
Sone Aluko is Hull’s top scorer with eight goals, two more than Robert Koren, and Bruce admits it is not just the strikers who need to increase their effectiveness in front of goal.
He said: “I believe all round we have to contribute a bit more. I was shouting ‘goal’ when Abdoulaye jumped up to head that ball (against Leicester).
“With that big head coming towards it and him being three yards out, I thought it was heading for the net.”
As Bruce contemplates ways to boost Hull’s goalscoring figures, Leeds fans have been digesting an operating loss for their club of £3.348m for the year to June, 2012.
In that period, turnover at Elland Road fell by 4.9 per cent compared to 2010-11 to a little over £31m and gate receipts were down by 10.6 per cent to £11.3m as the average crowd slumped by more than 4,000.
Amid this downturn, however, the football club did make a profit of £317,000 after player sales were taken into account as Max Gradel was sold to St Etienne in August and Jonny Howson to Norwich City in January.
Thanks to those two high-profile sales, United were able to post a profit for the fifth consecutive year – though one substantially down on the £3.505m of 2010-11, the club’s first back in the Championship when they received substantially more in central payments from the League for being in a higher division.
Overall, Leeds have made £10.5m since exiting administration in 2007. However, as Salem Patel of new owners GFH Capital made clear last week when speaking to the Yorkshire Post, there is a need to further improve the club’s off-field performance.
He said: “Looking at the business from a profitability aspect, the club is making money. Not many in the Championship can say that. (But) looking from a cash flow perspective, which is something that I feel a lot of fans don’t do, then that is where you can see there is an area of weakness.”
Also revealed in the Elland Road accounts is that the wage bill for 2011-12 rose to £12.869m (up from £11.614m the previous season) and now represents 41 per cent of turnover.
On the pitch, Leeds, beaten 4-2 at Nottingham Forest on Boxing Day, will be hoping for a big improvement tomorrow in front of the KC’s biggest crowd of the season.
Manager Neil Warnock was critical of his side in the wake of that reverse at the City Ground, not least because it diluted an encouraging run of five wins from six outings.
The Leeds chief, who yesterday made Ryan Hall’s loan switch from Southend United permanent on a two-and-a-half year deal, said: “In a way, I am glad we are facing Hull.
“If any Tigers fan saw our defending at Forest then they will be rubbing their hands about Saturday. But that is the Championship.”
“We were naive and I think we have been a few times (this year).
“It wasn’t that their goals were all brilliant. We conceded seven against Forest last season and now four this time. And all of them were silly goals.
“It is almost like when we make a mistake, we are so disappointed that one or two lads let their game go. But that is down to growing up and getting more experienced.”