A YEAR ago, just five points separated the bottom nine clubs in the Premier League to suggest that the relegation race was going to go the distance.
In the end, though, the only drama during those final few weeks came courtesy of a great escape act by Sunderland that meant Fulham, Cardiff City and Norwich City were all down with a game to spare.
This time around, exactly the same number of points separate the bottom nine after 21 games and Alex Bruce, whose club Hull City are one of those struggling near the foot of the table, insists that there is sufficient belief within the camp to suggest Yorkshire’s sole representative in the top flight can soon start to move out of trouble.
“The belief is still there,” said the 30-year-old Tigers defender. “If we give up now, we have had it.
“And it isn’t like us anyway. Belief will always be there.
“Roll up our sleeves, batten down the hatches and let’s get a bit of Lady Luck for once.
“As for the (relegation) fight, I would say there are up to 10 teams involved now. Basically, the bottom half of the table.
“Anyone can go on a run or a slump.
“Two or three results on the bounce without getting anything and you are dragged in.
“You see it happen like that all the time in the Barclays Premier League.
“The flipside is if you put back-to-back wins and you shoot up the table. It is still wide open.”
City are having to negotiate an injury crisis that last week claimed two more victims in Nikica Jelavic and Abel Hernandez.
The £17m strike pairing could be out for up to six weeks after limping out of the 1-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion.
Without the duo, City laboured at The Hawthorns so a big improvement will be needed on Sunday when the struggling Yorkshire club takes on West Ham United in front of the live Sky cameras.
“The injuries to Jela and Abel were a blow,” said Alex Bruce. “It was Sod’s Law those two would get injured, especially after how well they had played against Everton.
“To both have to go off in the opening half hour made it difficult for us.
“After that, nothing was happening in the game against West Brom. It was a crap game, if I am honest.
“Nothing in it at all.
“A horrible, windy day. A dry, bobby pitch. The ball was flying around all over.
“It was a boring game to play in, so I can’t imagine what it was like to watch.
“So to concede like we did (after being penalised for a back pass) was a killer. It had 0-0 bore draw written all over it until then. To lose like that was a real kick in the teeth.
“Still, that is over now and we look to a big game at West Ham. We have to go into it and really have a go.
“People say we can get the players fit because there is a three-week spell where we only place once.
“But this is an important match. We have to try and get a result. Only then, can we look at the fortnight and try to get some players fit.
“If we can get something at Upton Park, it will be a big boost. The game earlier in the season was a great one and showed what we can do.
“I notice in the programmed (last week) that West Brom got a 1-1 draw there so why not us? It would be great to do something similar.”
City, meanwhile, have agreed a fee of up to £2.3m for Tom Ince following his summer move from Blackpool.
A tribunal were set to decide the fee yesterday but an agreement had already been struck.