Eighteen times Steve Bruce tried to beat Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United as a manager. And 18 times, he failed.
He did come agonisingly close at Old Trafford with Sunderland four years ago.
At least he’s over that one.
‘We were 2-1 up with 30 seconds to go,’ he recalled. ‘Then Anton Ferdinand swiped at the ball and put it in his own net. As you can tell, I can barely remember it.’
David Moyes takes his Manchester United team to the KC Stadium for today’s early kick-off.
Hull manager Bruce sees no chink in the armoury of his former club under a new manager. He certainly doesn’t believe an aura has been lost at Old Trafford.
Asked if Ferguson’s retirement gave him an advantage at last, Bruce erred on the side of caution, and realism. ‘I don’t know if it’s a better chance,’ he said.
‘To have any chance against them, you have to play well on the day and that’s all we can hope for. You would never write off Man U. Just because they’ve changed manager doesn’t mean that mentality’s going to go away. It’s engrained in them. ‘For a lot of the players, they’re used to success. They know how to win a league. You can never write them off because they are capable of going to win eight, nine or 10 games on the spin. Usually, they get stronger in the second half of the season. That’s always been the case with them.
‘You either love them or hate them but you can’t argue it’s a magical day when you play against them.’
Bruce knows all about the patience the Old Trafford board showed Ferguson after nine years at United.
He joined in 1987, six years before he was the first of many captains to lift the Premier League trophy.
Ahead of the sell-out Boxing Day clash, he disdainfully dismissed the notion that Moyes will not be given time to build his version of a United team capable of following the many versions his predecessor built.
Bruce said: ‘They’ll not even contemplate it. They’ll give David time, I’m confident of that. That’s what they do. They’ll give him a chance to make his own mark and do the job the way he sees fit.
‘When you’re following in the footsteps of Sir Alex, whoever you are, it’s a difficult job to grasp.
‘David has handled himself fantastically well in a dignified manner, like we knew he would.’
Moyes faces a Hull side who have lost only once in eight at home so far, strangely to Crystal Palace. Four of the five victories were 1-0, the exception being a 3-1 demolition of Liverpool.
Bruce added: ‘I don’t know why sides have struggled here. But we should pride ourselves on being difficult to play against.
‘Our home form has been terrific and, touch wood, let’s hope it continues. To have 20 points by Christmas is a really good achievement and we need to kick on and get the next 20.’ – Daily Mail