Foundation continues to build at Hull City

Posted by Philip Buckingham

Matthew Lewis/Getty ImagesHull City boss Steve Bruce not only beat his former club, but also lifted the Tigers to 10th in the Premier League table after Saturday's 1-0 win over Sunderland.

Midway through the first half of Hull City's slender victory Sunderland, during the calm before the red card storm, there came a chant from the visiting supporters that proclaimed KC Stadium to be a dumping ground for their unwanted goods.

- Report: Hull City 1-0 Sunderland

As well as manager Steve Bruce and the bulk of his coaching team, Paul McShane, David Meyler and Ahmed Elmohamady had all been employed on Wearside before joining the Tigers.

The laws of a proud football fan dictate that even with their side languishing in 19th, none making the journey from Sunderland would mourn the loss of their old boys.

Yet as City retained their grip on 10th spot with a fourth victory of an encouraging season, the feeling was mutual. Bruce, McShane, Meyler and Elmohamady are all more than happy to have moved on.
Unlike life at the Stadium of Light, where Gus Poyet attempts to restore order to a tumultuous 2013, the Tigers continue to make quiet and consistent progress back in the Premier League. Few believe they have cracked it, but the opening swings are clearly working. Reaching the quarter-mark of the season in the top-half is surely evidence of that.

City's latest victory was a "huge" one for an appreciative Bruce. Albeit with pangs of injustice, back-to-back Premier League defeats at Everton and Tottenham had returned nothing for the Tigers and left them stuck on 11 points for almost a month.

Their rotten luck, typified by a Capital One Cup exit on penalties to Spurs last Wednesday, needed to change and it did so on a downright bizarre afternoon at the KC Stadium.

It wasn't remotely pretty or anything close to City's best. Even the game's only goal required a telling final touch from Sunderland defender Carlos Cuellar to divert the ball past Keiren Westwood before City were effectively gift-wrapped three points in first-half stoppage time.

You could barely make it up. Within four minutes of Lee Cattermole being sent off for jumping into a tackle with Elmohamady, Andrea Dossena stamped down on the angled shin of David Meyler.

There was some sympathy for Cattermole, especially when Robbie Brady only received a yellow card for a similar challenge late on, but Dossena's act was unforgivable. Callous and calculated, the Italian was fortunate to not have snapped the leg of his opponent. An FA charge should be guaranteed.

Sunderland's implosion set City up for a handsome win, but almost resulted in an embarrassing fall. An attacking line-up again missing Sone Aluko, injured during the warm-up, had few ideas how to dismantle the visitors' show of resistance.

Although sheer weight of numbers inside the penalty area made life awkward, City ought to have mustered more than a series of long-range efforts. Deliveries from wide were as poor as the movement in the middle. Without Aluko and, to a lesser extent, Brady, the Tigers are simply not the same inventive side.

However, attempts to draw tactical conclusions from Sunderland's visit are nigh on futile. City shaded a scrappy encounter with a level playing field and swamped their visitors once Cattermole and Dossena had exited along with any semblance of pattern.

The one and only clear-cut chance of the second half belonged to the nine-man visitors. Adam Johnson's effort, saved by Steve Harper, was a better opening than City could engineer all afternoon.

Jake Livermore struck a post and worked Vito Mannone from distance, but the Tigers lacked the creative nous to take full advantage and pull clear.

It made for an anxious conclusion and one City's followers ought to be immune to. Of the 28 league wins in Bruce's time at the KC Stadium, 22 of them have come courtesy of a single goal margin.
There is another pattern emerging, too, one that will delight Bruce much more.

Only Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal (four of the top five) have taken more points than the Tigers on home soil this season. Only Southampton, who they visit this weekend, can match their defensive strength, conceding just one goal in five games.

The visit of Crystal Palace to the KC Stadium after the international break could now see City equal the total number of home points gathered on their Premier League bow in 2008-09. And that will be before November is out.

Survival is still a dim and distant prospect, but City are building deep foundations in East Yorkshire. As Bruce said on Saturday evening, "long may it continue."

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