Bruce’s new faces increase spirit of Hull camp

Hull City's Yannick Sagbo (right) and Chelsea's John Terry battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.
Hull City's Yannick Sagbo (right) and Chelsea's John Terry battle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London.
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IF you think David Meyler sighed audibly when Steve Bruce made a high-profile double midfield transfer raid on the eve of the season, you could not be further from the truth.

At many Premier League clubs, the arrival a few days before the start of the campaign of a pair of England internationals – one coming on board for a club record fee – would have caused a few ripples among team-mates jockeying for starting positions.

But in the Hull City players’ camp, at least, the prevailing emotion upon Tigers chief Bruce bringing north £5.25m man Tom Huddlestone and Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Jake Livermore was one of delight.

Their arrivals may have some extra significance for the likes of Meyler, fellow Irishman Stephen Quinn and club captain Robert Koren as they intensify the battle for places in the engine room.

But for the former Sunderland midfield man, the double development has been viewed positively.

On the capture of Huddlestone and Livermore, who both made their debuts from the bench at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and are tipped to be handed full starts at home to Norwich today, Meyler said: “The manager has always done terrifically well for us in the market. Tom and Jake are both great lads and very good players and competition is always healthy in a side and it spurs us all on.

“The range of passing Tom has got is incredible from watching him in the last few days in training. Seeing him in games, you can see he’s a very good player, but when you work with someone on a day-to-day basis you really see the ability he has. It’s incredible and Jake Livermore is a very good player as well and works very hard for the team.”

Meyler, replaced by Huddlestone at Chelsea shortly before the hour mark, continued: “Competition is healthy. We will all be striving to play and push each other on. I have no doubt we will all be featuring (this season).”

Some big egos may be resident in dressing rooms across the Premier League, but chances are that anyone afforded a look at the inner sanctum at the KC Stadium or the Tigers’ training ground at Cottingham will find them refreshingly absent.

Like his legendary former manager at Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson, Bruce has no time for people with an inflated sense of self-worth.

Ten newcomers have arrived at Hull this summer, with the Tigers among the division’s most prolific shoppers along with Sunderland. But the spirit which served them so well last term remains intact.

There was mirth, too, at the start of the week when new French striker Yannick Sagbo – with limited command of the English language – had enough vocabulary to insert an expletive in his description of a difficult first-day assignment at Chelsea in a tweet.

Meyler said: “I didn’t see Yannick’s tweet. But it was a tough game. (Although) I think Yannick might have phrased it a bit differently.

“Yannick doesn’t speak terrific English but he’s a good lad and an affable guy and has a good craic with the lads. There’s great team spirit here and that’s key to us. It was massive during our promotion campaign.

“We’ve kept the banter and spirit going and that will be crucial to us.

“You look at QPR last season and a lot of people highlighted the fact they signed a lot of players and there was a lot of different cultures or whatever and people didn’t get on. But with the manager here, I don’t know what it is, but he just picks players and the 10 lads he has signed are all fantastic lads and have all fitted in. It was the exact same last year when there were new faces and everyone got on really well.

“The manager was crucial to us getting promoted last season and was phenomenal with everyone.

“He has that great ability to make everyone want to play for him. Not only play for him, but go that extra mile.

“We haven’t got egos in inverted commas. Everybody is on the same wavelength and want to achieve the same thing.”

Rarely has there been a more high-profile sporting weekend in the city of Hull, with thousands descending on Wembley this afternoon to cheer on Hull FC in the Challenge Cup final against Wigan Warriors.

Back home, a big crowd in the region of 23,500 will head to the KC – which the Airlie Birds share with the Tigers – to watch the hosts open their home programme against manager Bruce’s former club Norwich.

It marks the return of top-flight football not to just Hull but Yorkshire with the match the first to be staged in the Premier League in the Broad Acres since the relegated Tigers ended the 2009-10 campaign with a tame 0-0 draw with Liverpool on May 9, 2010.

No one needs to be told twice of the importance of home form to the club’s prospects of survival.

The arrival of Chris Hughton’s side is, on paper at least, the start of a decent looking run of fixtures at the KC which sees Cardiff City and West Ham up next.

Meyler added: “Last season, the KC was a fortress and teams didn’t fancy coming here. We passed teams off the park here and we will be looking to pick up a lot of points again.

“Norwich will come here thinking we are a promoted side and they can beat us, but we are thinking this is a chance to get some points on the board.”