Hull City - Bruce should be Manager of the Season

Steve Bruce

Forget Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez, there's only one man worthy of the Manager of the Season award - and that's Hull City boss Steve Bruce.

The Tigers have bucked every expectation placed upon them this year. Many tipped Hull City to struggle after clawing their way up into the Premier League through the Championship's second-place automatic promotion spot, but instead they've thrived.

For the most part, that has been down to their hugely underrated manager, and while the bosses of Liverpool and Everton may be raking in the plaudits for their teams' tactics and style, Hull have achieved comparable feats.

Instead of hitting a brick wall on their return to the topflight, Hull have largely avoided a relegation battle playing some brilliant football in the process, and currently sit in 12th position in the Premier League. The club could yet find themselves lifting the FA Cup too, with Hull heading to Wembley for the semi-final to face Sheffield United later this month. With Wigan Athletic and perennial chokers Arsenal making up the other side of the semi-final draw, who's to say the Tigers can't go all the way and win it ?

That could be more silverware than Rodgers wins this season if Manchester City have their way, sending Bruce into Europe - an accomplishment relative to Martinez's objective of bringing Champions League football to Goodison Park.

It's not just mid-table ambitions and a drive into the final stages of the most famous cup competition in English football that Bruce has brought to Hull either. At times, the football played under him this season has been exceptional.

While it might not conform to the continental trends of tiki-taka or Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund, Hull have played with a fearless enthusiasm for the majority of the campaign, offering plenty of reasons for their loyal fans to feel entertained.

Hull haven't had to rely on the shock appeal of brute force either, with Bruce trusting in his midfield craftsmen Tom Huddlestone and Ahmed Elmohamady to produce the best chances for the team. Before his injury problems, Robbie Brady was also one of the most dangerous and decisive wingers in the league.

The effort levels shown across the board have been admirable and riveting in their own right too. Even the club's creative players have put the yards in and sweated for the shirt, generating the sort of buzz and team spirit which can't fail to produce great football.

Even more impressively, all this hasn't had to come by playing recklessly or naively like Ian Holloway at Blackpool. Under Bruce, defenders such as Curtis Davies have been out performing supposedly world-class players in similar positions. There was even some talk of Davies hovering around the England squad, and however unlikely such a call-up would be, it certainly wouldn't be undeserved.

  Curtis Davies
Team Hull
Pos DF
Total Clearance / apps 8.66
Aerial Won / apps 4.94
Total Tackle / apps 1.91
Interception / apps 2.94
Apps 32

Beyond pepping up his players, Bruce has also shown the sort of tactical nous that's seen his more hyped up colleagues in the league declared as footballing geniuses. There's no need to head to Anfield in search of a team playing a 3-5-2 formation with some exhilarating, attacking football. The fans at the KC Stadium have been enjoying such a spectacle at various points this season.

And just when it seemed as though Hull's momentum could be on the wane, in January, Bruce completed two of the best transfers of the year in Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long. Both strikers perfectly embody the hard working, attacking qualities that their new manager has injected into the East Yorkshire club.

There's an old footballing saying that you reinforce from a position of strength. Instead of falling short as so many other exciting, promoted teams have when the surge of adrenaline starts to wane, Hull upgraded their goalscorers and raised their game.

What's more, going by Bruce's past record in the Premier League, this has by no means been a fluke.

Though he was relegated with Birmingham City in 2006, the former Premier League-winning centre-back is something of a topflight survival specialist. He steered Wigan through two seasons of relegation-averting over-achievement, and gave Sunderland what proved to be their best run in the Premier League in recent years. In both the North East and at Wigan he juggled tight budgets while having to let key players leave - such as Wilson Palacios and Jordan Henderson - all the while providing solid and sometime spectacular football for his match-going audience.

Come May, Bruce could somehow find himself lifting the FA Cup. Yet rather than leaving it to chance that he receives the glory he deserves, the Premier League should recognise his accomplishments this year with Hull - however modest they may seem to the fans of the super clubs - and crown him Manager of the Season.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch