Keith Millen gave incoming Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis the perfect welcome present with victory at Hull, then backed the former Stoke boss to keep the side in the Barclays Premier League.
Millen, in his final outing in caretaker charge, oversaw a 1-0 win at the KC Stadium, Barry Bannan converting with nine minutes remaining to lift the Eagles off bottom spot on goal difference from Sunderland.
Pulis was present to watch his new employers double their tally of league wins for the season, but a different outcome looked to be in the offing when Yannick Bolasie was harshly dismissed three minutes before the winner.
Hull boss Steve Bruce, whose team have had a serene return to the top flight compared to fellow newcomers Palace, admitted the Tigers were short of their best.
“The performance is the big disappointment for us,” he said.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose but we didn’t do enough as the home team to win the match.
“No matter what we tried to do, we didn’t have enough composure in the final third and we unfortunately ran out of ideas pretty quickly.
“We didn’t deserve to lose but we certainly didn’t do enough to win the match.”
As for Pulis, Bruce feels the experienced campaigner is a fine catch.
“For me, it’s a great appointment,” he said.
“He’s been there, done it, worn the T-shirt. I think he’ll be a very good appointment for them.”
To snatch victory with 10 men required guts and when Millen makes the formal handover, he plans to tell Pulis the club are capable of beating the drop.
“From a personal point of view, I’m delighted to win the game and from the players’ point of view, they deserved that,” he said.
“I want the lads to enjoy it. It’s nice to be off the bottom of the league but it’s more important in the bigger picture that we’re closer to the teams around us.
“I said to Tony that I honestly believe these lads can stay up.
“You pick up on the vibes in training and there is a belief there. They feel they have a chance.
“Tony was pleased to hear that and if he can come in and add some experience to us as a group on how to win games at this level, then we have as good a chance as five or six teams in this league.”
While Millen was never in the frame as a permanent solution for Palace, he was consistently clear about the kind of man he felt would be right for the job.
While names such as Aitor Karanka and Dan Petrescu floated in and out of vogue, Millen argued that a man with Pulis’ Premier League grounding would be invaluable.
“What I thought was needed was someone with experience at this level because the club haven’t got a lot of that,” he said.
“For me, Tony was top of the list and I’m delighted he’s on board. I’m sure he’ll be pleased to see the team here and see their commitment to the club. It gives them something to work with.”
Millen resisted the temptation to bring Pulis in for a pre-match pep talk, preferring to keep his side’s sights on their established game plan.
“I spoke to Tony this morning and we felt it was really important we stay focused on what we’ve worked on for the last two weeks for this game,” added Millen.
“If Tony had come in, it might have distracted from me being in charge and undermined me a little bit.”