Hull City: Omen, Superstition And Why Bruce Is The Tigers' Lucky Rabbit's Foot

Luck play a vital part in football and in Steve Bruce the boys from the KC have the right man in charge...
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Luck play a vital part in football and in Steve Bruce the boys from the KC have the right man in charge...

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Maybe it’s all the fishing heritage, but Hull is steeped in superstition which was at its sharpest in the build-up to the match at Burnley.

Win, and the Tigers would go second in the Championship. Lose and they would simply confirm the worst fears of fans who tremble at the mention of live TV coverage and any type of fixture against Burnley.

To be fair to those doom-mongers, seven successive defeats against any side will never make them your opponents of choice.

And a return of no points from the last two live TV games amplified the howls of dismay and triggered a rush of reminders that the Tigers never win on the telly.

Such terrors gain momentum when the reward for success is a return to the automatic promotion places, and when eight goals have been surrendered in losing the last two away games.

Logically there was no reason for City to lose at Burnley just because they’d lost the last seven games against the Clarets. Different matches on different days and involving different players.

Illogically it’s maybe worth pointing out that the last two TV games were lost, but against Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton, who both play in blue and white. The last time City were on live TV against a team in claret and blue was April last year at Ham. Sure, City lost that one, but it was a lunchtime kick-off and they haven’t won a TV game on a Sunday since 2009 against Stoke and they play in red and white.

Hull City’s two biggest games were both live on TV and ended in victory against teams in red and white.

There was the 2–1 at Arsenal in City’s first Premier League season, and the 1–0 triumph over Bristol City in the play-off final, the result that took the Tigers into the top flight for the first time.

The hope is that this season City will be able to make it to the Premier League without the excitement, expense and excruciating tension of the play-offs.

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Manager Steve Bruce has been given the money to spend on taking good fortune out of the equation, although the fact that he spent some of it on Robbie Brady and David Meyler suggests he may be trying to tap into the luck of the Irish.

Even stronger is the Egyptian influence. Club owner Assem Allam was born there and has funded the loan deals to add striker Gedo and midfielder Ahmed Fathi to Ahmed Elmohamady, a wing-back who is key to Bruce’s preferred 3–5–2 formation.

When it works, City look like world-beaters. Ask Millwall, Bolton, Leeds and Birmingham, who were all taken apart on their visits to the KC Stadium.

But the fact that Hull don’t have the Championship sewn up is evidence enough that the fluent, pacy passing game doesn’t always deliver. For much of the season the problem was a failure to take chances, now addressed by the arrival of the lively Gedo and the cultured George Boyd.

But City have also paid the price for some calamitous defending. Home defeats against Blackpool and Peterborough come to mind from early in the season, three goals conceded in the first eight minutes at Bolton more recently.

Against Burnley, Bruce’s plan was to tighten things up, with son Alex shoring up the midfield and hit-and-miss playmaker Robbie Koren dropped from the side that went down 4–2 at Crystal Palace.

The approach was all about patience and possession, with City easing their way into the game, keeping calm in the face of the odd half-chance for Burnley, gradually exerting the control which would hopefully bring openings at the other end.

Gedo nearly grabbed a goal, Boyd had a shot blocked and then Stephen Quinn found the tightest of gaps to squeeze a shot from the edge of the penalty area low into the corner of the net, with just enough power to allow the keeper a fingertip touch but no more.

Quinn’s strike followed good work by Koren and by Jay Simpson, the two substitutes who had just been sent on by Bruce Senior.

Maybe Bruce is the sort of lucky manager that Hull City fans need. It’s worth noting that the last time Hull City beat Burnley they went on to win promotion to the Premier League, and you know what football fans are like about omens.