ROWELL: Hull a big test for Sunderland

Hull City manager Steve Bruce
Hull City manager Steve Bruce
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ANYBODY thinking that Sunderland’s game against newly-promoted Hull City will be easy, just because we beat Newcastle, are in need of a wake-up call.

Hull may be newly-promoted but they are sitting nicely in mid-table and their home record is the main reason for that, and has got to be respected.

Unbeaten in four home games so far, they have conceded only one goal - a defensive record I wish we could boast.

There are quite a few ex-Sunderland players plying their trade at Hull now, including Ahmed Elmohamady, David Meyler and Paul McShane, plus on-loan Danny Graham.

But the main focus no doubt will be on former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce.

Even Bruce’s harshest critics could not deny the job he has done at Hull, bringing them promotion at his first attempt when they were rank outsiders.

And it will be a considered a successful campaign this season if he keeps Hull out of the bottom three come May.

Any manager who is sacked by a club, has a point to prove when he faces his old team and Bruce will be no different in that respect.

In fact the manner of his departure will give him extra motivation for a fixture he has probably had ringed since the start of the season.

The game which sealed his fate, and which has got to be a painful memory for him, was against another of his former clubs, Wigan, and it was a game that Sunderland were expected to win but it ended shambolicly.

Wigan scored their winner with the last kick of the game - but only due to a catastrophic mistake between Wes Brown and Keiren Westwood, as Sunderland snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The anger and frustration of the fans boiled over, with Bruce taking the brunt of the criticism as the mood turned ugly.

Owner Ellis Short, as we know, is never afraid to make big decisions and he decided Sunderland needed a new manager.

A couple of days later, Steve Bruce was history.

Sunderland will face a manager who will be harbouring a burning desire to turn us over.

But with the away end sold out again, Sunderland fans will be in a great mood to create a positive atmosphere with plenty of sub-plots.