Big-money strikers provide Hull City’s survival catalyst

Hull City's Steve Bruce.
Hull City's Steve Bruce.
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STEVE Bruce stands firm in his belief that, when it comes to relegation battles, teams with successful strikers stay up.

That will not give much comfort to opposite number Gus Poyet, who has main frontman Steven Fletcher sidelined and Jozy Altidore becalmed on one solitary Premier League goal this season – none in 2014.

It’s a conviction which led Hull to splash out £13.5million last month bringing in strikers Shane Long from West Brom and Nikica Jelavic from Everton to pep up a side whose goals had ran dry.

And on Saturday the pair paid off the early instalments in the repayments with a goal apiece at the Stadium of Light.

Long scored his second goal in two games for Hull, while Jelavic got his first.

Bruce noted that the Croatian, who hit the woodwork the previous week, could easily have had half a dozen goals in his opening two games.

But with Jelavic finally ending a personal goal drought stretching past 11 hours on Saturday, the former Rangers man would not have complained that he only notched once.

Nor was Bruce, who knows that Jelavic has always had a history of scoring goals in bursts and can now look forward to the remainder of the campaign with a little more confidence.

“I’ve always said you live or die by your strikers in this division,” the Hull boss reminded the Press after a victory which lifted his side up to 11th in the division.

“When I was manager at Sunderland, we lost our strikers in quick succession and that made it a struggle for me here.

“But Long and Jelavic have both made an early impact and things are well set for them – they’re a good foil for each other.

“For a newly-promoted team to have them two up top is terrific.

“We tried to get Long in the summer and we just kept persevering – I was shocked there wasn’t more competition but delighted we’ve got them on board. All credit to the people who employ me for bringing them in.

“If you look at the bottom half of the division, none of us can afford the Sergio Agueros of the division.

“But you’re only as good as your strikers in my view and, thankfully for me, it’s my strikers who have done what we needed and stuck the ball in the back of the net.”

Bruce left the Stadium of Light thrilled at having done the double over his former club – less for personal vengeance than for professional satisfaction.

He believes he has now fully addressed Hull’s problems up front with the arrival of two proven Premier League goalscorers.

That’s something Poyet cannot say.

Fletcher has his problems. Altidore simply has not delivered goals. Connor Wickham has yet to convince.

It looks like a heavy burden of responsibility could fall on Premier League novice Ignacio Scocco – or the progressing Fabio Borini must be handed more of an attacking role.