Bruce reveals skipper's blast fired Cup win
published : 14 Apr 2014 at 00:49
Hull City manager Steve Bruce revealed a half-time blast from captain Curtis Davies inspired a thrilling 5-3 win over Sheffield United that booked his club's first FA Cup final appearance.
Hull City's English midfielder Tom Huddlestone (R) scores his team's third goal during the English FA Cup Semi-final match between Hull City and Sheffield United at Wembley Stadium in London on April 13, 2014
Bruce's side were in danger of suffering a humiliating defeat in Sunday's semi-final at Wembley after a woeful first half display left them trailing 2-1 against the League One underdogs.
The former Manchester United defender was set to give his players a major rollicking at the interval, but before he even got started Davies took the words right out of his mouth.
Shaken out of their lethargy by Davies's tirade and transformed by Bruce's decision to send on Matty Fryatt and Sone Aluko so he could revert to his usual approach of playing two strikers, the Premier League team finally showed why 44 places separate them from United in the league structure.
The Blades led twice in the first half through Jose Baxter and Stefan Scougall.
But Hull, whose first equaliser, came from Yannick Sagbo, hit back emphatically as goals from Fryatt, Tom Huddlestone and Stephen Quinn put them in command.
Even that couldn't completely end United's heroic resistance and Jamie Murphy got one back before David Meyler finally sealed the first major Cup final appearance in Hull's 110-year history and a showdown with Arsenal back at Wembley on May 17.
"I didn't say much. The captain did it all. It's a long time since I've been in a dressing room when the captain took over," Bruce said when asked how he lifted his players at the break.
"It was like a throwback to my days as a player. I let him get on with it and had a cup of tea.
"We were awful in the first half and made more mistakes than I've seen us make it six months. We kept giving the ball away and couldn't do anything.
"But we made a couple of tactical changes at half-time and it worked."
- Bruce's personal vindication -
Hull's victory in their first FA Cup semi-final for 84 years was the latest step on the road to personal vindication for Bruce, who still feels let down by Sunderland's decision to sack him in 2011.
He has shown up struggling Sunderland's mistake by leading Hull to promotion from the Championship and now taking them to the Cup final.
"I've had a great couple of years at Hull and it couldn't have gone any better. I won't say it was about rehabilitating myself but the owners gave me a chance to get back into management and they let me do the job without interference," Bruce said.
Recalling Wigan's shock triumph over Manchester City in last season's Cup final, Bruce insisted there was no reason for Hull to feel intimidated when they face Arsenal next month.
"If you had said 10 years ago Hull would play Arsenal in the FA Cup final people would have been scratching their heads and saying no chance," Bruce said.
"All the pressure will be on Arsenal. People will be saying they haven't won anything for a nine years.
"They are a big club with a great history and a great manager so we are up against it but we will do our best."
For Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough, whose side nearly became the first third tier club to reach the Cup final in over a century, it was a bittersweet afternoon.
United earned plaudits for their contribution to just the fourth Cup semi-final with eight goals and the first since 1958, but Clough was disappointed to have fallen short.
"I'm feeling two emotions at the moment, frustration at the result and pride at the performance," he said.
"We just have that feeling we could have done it, it was just 45 minutes away.
"But we are halfway up League One and we played well in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. We have to put it in perspective."