English Premiership

Bruce's Hull chase history

2014-04-12 14:07
Steve Bruce (AP Photo)

London - Hull City manager Steve Bruce insists he won't let his players be distracted by the prospect of making history as they prepare to face League One minnows Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-finals on Sunday.

Bruce's Premier League team head to Wembley for their first semi-final in 84 years as the clear favourites against third tier opponents who are the last remaining obstacle between Hull and the first major final in the club's 110-year history.

On paper, Hull should have few problems dispatching Nigel Clough's team to set up a final showdown with Arsenal or Wigan, who meet in the other semi-final on Saturday.

United are 44 places below Hull in the league structure and no team from outside the top two divisions has reached the FA Cup final in more than a century.

But Bruce, whose first managerial job was with United in 1998, is determined to guard against complacency and, in a bid to keep his players in businesslike mood, he was quick to play down the historic sub-plot.

Former Manchester United defender Bruce, a three-time FA Cup winner as a player, said: "We won't do anything different. We want it to be like a normal game.

"We don't want to give them any excuses. We had Thursday off, we are in Friday and Saturday and let's hope preparation is the same as usual.

"I know the team, but the players don't. I'll tell the players the team on Saturday.

"You know when there is a big game and we had to put the reins on them at the training ground, which is great to see. They were flying around."

Hull owner Assem Allam suffered a frustrating defeat at Wembley in midweek when his controversial application to change the club's name to Hull Tigers was rejected by the Football Association.

But the Egyptian will be back at the English national stadium with Europe in his sights.

Should Arsenal get the better of Wigan, either Hull or United will qualify for next season's Europa League if the Gunners hold onto fourth spot in the Premier League and qualify for the Champions League.

"Hull playing in Europe would be terrific. We'll all go on EasyJet!" Bruce said.

"It would be quite remarkable but we've got to get to the final first."

Meanwhile, boss Clough admits he isn't offended by the Blades' underdog tag.

Clough, whose father Brian failed to win the Cup during his legendary managerial career, has masterminded victories over Premier League sides Aston Villa and Fulham during United's run to the last four.

But United, the first League One team to reach this stage of the competition since 2001, have a miserable record at Wembley and Clough is realistic about his unheralded team's hopes of springing another surprise.

"Our chances are slim because we're playing a team two divisions above us," he said.

"It is so many years since a League One team got to this stage. And I don't think one has got to the final so that's why Hull are huge favourites.

"Hull will be the sternest test. I would have said that even if it had been the round before."

Just reaching semi-finals is a huge achievement for United -- four-time FA Cup winners and founder members of the Premier League who have fallen on hard times in the last two decades.

Former Liverpool and England striker Clough will relish the day whatever the result, especially since his latest clash with Bruce won't result in bruises for once.

The pair were regular combatants during their playing days in the top-flight and Clough said: "We had some real battles. There was one of us doing the kicking -- and guess who that was!

"I played against Steve for a good few years and he was uncompromising to say the least.

"I didn't lose my cool because I was in too much pain lying on the ground."




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