Tigers will look to punish Black Cats’ ‘big mistake’

DAVID MEYLER believes Sunderland’s “poor decision” to sack Steve Bruce has been very much their loss and Hull City’s gain.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce (left) and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas BoasHull City manager Steve Bruce (left) and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas Boas
Hull City manager Steve Bruce (left) and Tottenham Hotspur manager Andre Villas Boas

Tomorrow the 52-year-old Tigers manager will face his former club for the first time since being dismissed in November, 2011.

Bruce was left stung by his treatment on Wearside, though ahead of the game at the KC Stadium he has been sticking to the mantra of it being “just another game”.

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Meyler is adamant that Sunderland – where the midfielder also played under Bruce – made a big mistake in letting go of the former Manchester United player a 
little over two years ago.

He said: “With the backing of the Allams, Steve Bruce is Hull City. That is the attraction for players who sign.

“Look at a player like Tom Huddlestone. He played for England. People may ask, ‘Why leave Tottenham to come to Hull?’

“The answer is the manager. I remember reading an article with Tom soon after arriving and he said Steve Bruce was why he signed for Hull. That says it all.

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“He is the main attraction. When you have a manager who has done everything as a player, that is a big attraction.

“I can’t speak highly enough of him. Everyone is the same. We all sing from the same hymn sheet in that respect.”

Meyler knows Bruce better than most after being at the Stadium of Light throughout his 30-month reign as manager.

The pair were then reunited at Hull last season when the 24-year-old joined the Tigers, initially on loan before becoming a permanent signing in the summer following the club’s promotion.

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“Steve Bruce is the exact same boss I have had for the last five years,” said Meyler ahead of 
tomorrow’s encounter between the Tigers and second-bottom Sunderland.

“He hasn’t changed. It is an honour to play for him and I am always grateful he gave me a chance to play in the Premier league.

“I won’t harp on too much, but they made a poor decision. 
Sunderland should never have got rid of the manager.

“Just look at the fantastic job he has done at Hull City. He turned a team who were 55-1 or 60-1 to win promotion (last season) and took us up.

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“We all enjoy playing for the manager. You sometimes hear him on the sidelines shouting, ‘Get up and get after them’.

“I am out of breath and feel to have nothing left in the tank. But I run that extra mile for the manager. You know he will reward you because he spots things like that. It is for him.”

Bruce was appointed Sunderland manager in the summer of 2009 and, initially, enjoyed a promising start.

However, a section of the Wearsiders’ support never took to a manager who had been born in Northumberland and was raised as a Newcastle United fan.

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Bruce has admitted several times since taking the helm at Hull that he felt let down by Sunderland’s decision to dispense with his services.

Victory tomorrow, therefore, would be very sweet indeed. It would, though, be nothing compared to the satisfaction felt by everyone at the KC Stadium that another three points towards survival had been earned.

Meyler said: “Sunderland will be flying after the derby win, especially as it was their first three points of the season. They will want to build on that and so will the new manager.

“But we don’t want to focus on them. We have a great squad and we have had two great run-outs in the last few days.

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“We pushed Tottenham all the way twice and that shows what we are about.

“We are looking forward to the Sunderland game. It is all about the three points, as that is all that will be acceptable to me.”

Sunday’s unfortunate league defeat at Spurs was followed by an even more heart-breaking Capital One Cup fourth-round exit on penalties to the same opposition.

But Meyler insists Hull will go into the Sunderland game full of confidence.

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He said: “There is a belief among us. Tottenham have such strength in depth, bringing in players they paid £20m-£30m for in the summer.

“We had mixed emotions. Obviously, we are gutted not to go through to the next round after being 2-1 up and pushing them all the way.

“After what had happened on Sunday, it made it that bit more heart-breaking. But, on the plus side, we put in a magnificent performance.

“The gaffer made a few changes again and the lads worked so hard. We have another cup final now on Saturday.

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“Sunderland beat Newcastle last Sunday and will be up for the challenge. But so will we. After the two performances we put in this week against Tottenham, the lads can hold their heads high.”

Tomorrow will see Meyler face Sunderland for the first time since calling time on his career at the Stadium of Light.

He added: “I have a lot of close friends up there, particularly the staff who were very good to me when I suffered my injuries.

“They were brilliant to me and I hold them in high regard. So, if we have a day off at Hull and Sunderland are playing, I go and watch them.

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“They changed a lot and I don’t think they clicked. The team that played last week (against Newcastle) were a lot of the lads I played with.

“I would love to play on Saturday. The manager knows me and knows I want to play every minute. That is the person I am.

“But if the manager decides to pick someone else then I will support them. This is a great bunch and both Tom (Huddlestone) and Jake (Livermore) have been outstanding since day one.

“Credit goes to them, but there is myself, George, Quinny all desperate to play, too. We have given a good account of ourselves and the manager has been happy with all that.”