Bruce has grown used to hints of his impending departure from the KC Stadium, having been strongly tipped to succeed Alan Pardew at Newcastle earlier this season. And just last week Bruce was fielding questions about his future in charge of the Tigers after a 3-0 home loss to Newcastle dumped them in the relegation zone.
With his mind firmly on tonight’s crucial home clash with Aston Villa, Bruce is determined to give short shrift to the latest suggestions and said they were disrespectful to current Cottagers boss Kit Symons.
Bruce said: “I was getting the sack the day before, and then Fulham want me. Unfortunately with the media today I can’t do anything about it. The biggest problem I’ve got with the whole thing is they’ve got a manager in situ at Fulham and I’ve got huge respect for Kit who is new to the job... as far as I’m concerned it’s rubbish journalism.”
Bruce knows the next month could shape the club’s top-flight future. Games against QPR, Stoke and Sunderland follow Villa and the Hull boss has demanded his players replicate their form against the big clubs in these crucial relegation scraps.
“This cluster of games we have coming up are going to be crucial to us,” added Bruce. “We’ve got to show the resilience and attitude we had at Liverpool and Arsenal and Man City.”
Bruce could call both new boy Dame N’Doye and fellow striker Nikica Jelavic to his starting line-up for the visit of shot-shy Villa after both started on the bench against City.
Meanwhile Villa boss Paul Lambert has defended Manchester United Tom Cleverley. The midfielder was substituted to ironic jeers from a section of the home support in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Chelsea. Cleverley is on a season-long loan from Old Trafford and his deal at United expires at the end of the season.
“Tom is one of these guys who never hides from the ball. I never criticise anybody for looking for the ball if they make a mistake,” said Lambert.
“Tom never hides. He gives it everything he has got, everything to try and do well. He wants to do well here and sometimes that is part and parcel of football. It is not nice to hear. Tom has played in massive games, he is no novice. Confidence goes when you don’t want to take the ball,” he said.
“He may be trying too hard which can go against you.”