I would have settled for this in August, insists Brown

Hull manager happy to face final-day test of nerve against the champions
Click to follow
The Independent Football

There are those who consider Phil Brown to have been too much of a photo opportunity this season and Hull City's manager knows lenses will be aimed in his direction tomorrow like never before.

Whether or not his club's Premier League survival fight is won or lost on the afternoon Manchester United visit the KC Stadium, though, the cameramen may need to make their latest shots and clips last for quite a while.

Brown turns 50 a week today and does not intend marking his half century by attending the FA Cup final, scouting players abroad or ringing agents from an office in which a bottle of champagne bearing a "Welcome to the Barclays Premier League" message still sits.

"Pretty soon after this game, I'm off on a Harley Davidson, ready to celebrate my birthday," he said. "Hopefully, that will be with a cigar on – but we have to stay up first."

The French Riviera, where Hull's chairman Paul Duffen is thought to moor a yacht, is Brown's destination. The tag Hull's Angels springs to mind, although the word "hell" can be re-applied if the club head south even before their manager does.

"We have really enjoyed our season but the only way we can really glean anything from it is if we survive and come out fighting as a Premier League side next season," Brown added. "I'm more chipper this week than last because I wasn't very happy then about things not being in our control. Now they are.

"Would I have settled in August for our season to come down to this with a home game on the last day? A definite yes. I have looked at my players over 37 games and take a lot of belief from the ability they have shown. They are looking forward to the game rather than fearing it."

Although Brown has little idea of the side Sir Alex Ferguson is going to name with Wednesday's Champions League final in mind, he is pretty sure about his own players turning up.

Having arrested their nosedive and clambered out of the bottom three seven days ago with a draw at Bolton Wanderers that was the least they deserved, they will be found to have enough already if Newcastle United lose at Aston Villa and Middlesbrough do what all but their staunchest followers expect them to do at West Ham United.

It is exactly a year tomorrow that Hull beat Bristol City in the Championship play-off final to give themselves their first taste of top-flight football in 104 years of trying. And the manager turned the clock back 12 months by making yesterday open house at their suburban training ground a few miles north of the city.

Whether he will today dust off the Wembley dvd and show it as a motivational tool is something his players will have to wait to discover.

But their routine has been anything but in this tense last couple of weeks. They had two days' bonding in the Lake District before the Bolton match.

This week, amid the various Player of the Year commitments and now the talk of Brown reaching for his leathers, they have had a visit to the new Hull Truck Theatre to see "Confessions of a City Supporter". Brown revealed that one scene in the play had him depicted with a halo – maybe his team need to avoid an 11th home league defeat of the season before that particular accolade is seen by the wider audience as being appropriate.

Around 3.57pm tomorrow, he will be thinking about greeting a knight whose team have won the Carling Cup and another Premier League crown since being shocked by three Hull goals in a fraught home win at Old Trafford in November. By then, one of the more eagerly-awaited team selections of the season will be known.

"I hear Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland have fears about what team will come out of United's dressing room. So do I," the South Shields-born Brown added. "By winning the title, Sir Alex has earned the right to consider the massive game he has three days after this one but he has so many quality players anyway."