Neil Warnock: Steve Bruce must be a contender for Manager of the Year after brilliant transformation of Hull, crowned with a place in the FA Cup final

... and Kenny Jackett’s done a great job with Wolves too

When members of the League Managers’ Association choose their Manager of the Year, they don’t just go for whoever’s won the Premier League but look a little deeper. This year there would be some excellent choices, even if we just look at the top flight. Brendan Rodgers has done a fantastic job at Liverpool, as has Roberto Martinez at Everton, and what Tony Pulis has achieved since taking over Crystal Palace has been near-miraculous.

And after working at the FA Cup semi-final last Sunday for BT Sport I want to highlight the job done by another British manager – and how good it is to be saying that, by the way – in Steve Bruce of Hull City. What Steve’s done there is brilliant. Last year in the Championship I thought they were a hard-to-beat side who ground their way to success and promotion – not that that’s anything to be sniffed at in getting out of that league. But this season Steve has taken it on another step.

He told me his chairman has been brilliant, for all the stick he takes, and he certainly did well in putting up the funds for the signing of two strikers, Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic, in January, just when they needed to kick on. Hull have taken the FA Cup seriously right since the start, and now have the reward of their first Cup final.

You’ll understand my loyalty on the day was to Sheffield United, who had their chances and gave it a real good shot. Now they’ll be looking to use the money from the Cup run to bring in one or two for a promotion push from League One next season, because many people were expecting them to be right up there where Wolves have been.

I must hold my hands up about my prediction for the Hull game, when I said that the strength of both teams this season has been the lads at the back and that by half-time we might not have much to talk about. Instead, it turned into one of the best semi-finals for many a year, with eight goals and numerous misses.

When we interviewed Brucey on the pitch afterwards I couldn’t resist saying to him: “How long did it take you to realise that your tactics were rubbish?” He said: “About three minutes!” and we all had a good laugh. What he’d done was play Tom Huddlestone behind the front men in a free role that didn’t work at all – but he had the wit to change the system and Hull got the benefit and the win.

Now they’ll be back for the final, using their experience of Wembley and such a big day, which can only help a team, especially if they’re the underdogs, as Hull will be against Arsenal. You can’t overestimate how much the top clubs are helped by their experience of big games and even little things like familiarity with the ground and the pitch. Going back to my semi-final with Sheffield United against Arsenal at Old Trafford in 2003, I remember asking the FA for permission to train on the pitch before the game, because it was all new to my lads, whereas Arsenal had already played Manchester United there twice that season, including the fifth round of the Cup. But the FA turned us down.

Even if you feel, as I do, that Wembley should be kept for the FA Cup final, what I really enjoyed as well as the game was the way the fans from Sheffield and Hull intermingled happily with each other on the way in and out, and then United supporters staying on afterwards to show their appreciation for both teams.

I was in London for the whole weekend and everywhere you went there was red-and-white and yellow-and-black, making it a proud couple of days for Yorkshire. I just hope people weren’t too shocked by London prices and that the Hull fans can afford another trip next month.

It certainly seems wrong to me that –like Arsenal – they should only get 25,000 tickets for the final. I know it’s the FA’s showpiece day and it likes to reward the county associations and local officials who work so hard for the game, but there really should be a minimum of 30,000 for each club, especially for a club like Arsenal, who get twice that number at every home game.

... and Kenny Jackett’s done a great job with Wolves too

As I mentioned, Wolves have made the running in League One and another British manager I’d like to pay tribute to is Kenny Jackett for the work he has done there. Everyone thinks it should be easy to wake up one of these so-called sleeping giants, but there’s always a reason they’ve fallen asleep in the first place.

When they look at it in hindsight Wolves might just find Kenny is as near as you’ll get to Mick McCarthy, who they sacked two years ago when still in the Premier League. Look at all the upheaval since then.

Kenny did a smashing job at Millwall and, with respect to them, he deserved a crack at managing a club the size of Wolves, who I notice took 8,000 to an away game recently at MK Dons. The fans like the fact that Kenny’s brought in a number of young lads who bring with them that energy and enthusiasm you need. Now he’s got the luxury of tying up promotion early and having time to plan properly for next season at a higher level.

My heart condition earned me a theme park reprieve

For most managers at this time of year, every minute of your life seems consumed with the job, thinking about your next opponents, team selection and so on. Your family get put to one side more than ever, so it was a welcome relief for me to spend time sitting, talking and laughing with mine this week for a couple of days at Alton Towers.

It was Amy’s 16th birthday and she and William loved it, though when I see some of the rides there like “Oblivion” and “Mr Smiler” I’m amazed at what the human body can go through.

 The best news for me was seeing a notice that anyone with heart problems should stay well clear. I was able to point out I’ve been recalled for a check next week and didn’t want to risk oblivion quite yet.

Brilliant Bale showed Spurs fans what they’re missing

Bearing in mind the occasion, a cup final between Real Madrid and Barcelona, Gareth Bale’s goal this week was one of the best I’ve ever seen. Spurs have signed a lot of players with the £86m fee for him, but I wonder how many supporters would rather they’d kept Gareth and seen him win them a Champions League spot.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform