£110 million: Hull City's reward for earning promotion to Premier League
Manager Steve Bruce believes Hull City can copy the blueprint of the Premier League's overachievers after the side secured an immediate return to the big league following last year's relegation
London: Steve Bruce believes Hull can copy the blueprint of the Premier League's overachievers as they look to survive in the top-flight. Bruce's side secured an immediate return to the big league following last year's relegation, thanks to Mohamed Diame's sublime strike in the Championship play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday.
Senegal midfielder Diame's long-range effort in the 72nd minute was enough to give Hull a 1-0 win at Wembley on Saturday and Hull boss Bruce can now turn his attention to planning their attempt to avoid the drop next term.
It will help that Hull's bank balance will be boosted by the £110 million windfall they will earn due to the Premier League's new television contracts. Spending that cash wisely is essential, but Bruce will also study shock champions Leicester and the likes of Swansea, Watford and Bournemouth, who have all survived against the odds.
"Nobody gave us a cat in hell's chance of staying up a few years ago, but it can be done," Bruce said. "We know we have to be at our maximum and invest well. That's the hardest part for a club like Hull. Even when you've got money you have to spend it wisely and get the right players. We'll do our best. If we do things properly, we can improve the club no end. If somebody had said Leicester would be champions, we'd have said they were nuts, so it proves anything can happen."
"Bournemouth and Watford stayed up this season and Swansea have done it for seven or eight years. We have to try to replicate that," he added.
Bruce revealed that he had offered to resign after Hull's relegation in 2015, but was persuaded by the club's Egyptian owner Assem Allam to stay.
Bruce dedicated the promotion to Allam, who is ailing in hospital. "I did offer to resign because ultimately we failed. Thankfully the owner didn't want me to go," Bruce said. "I had a long hard think about it to see if I could repair the damage. I dedicate this to the chairman. He couldn't make it today and his ill health concerns us all, so for him I'm very pleased."
Bruce is the first manager in the Premier League era to mastermind four promotions to the top-flight — two with Hull and two with Birmingham — but he conceded he was unsure at the start of the season if Hull were capable of recovering from relegation. "There's an uncertainty when you get relegated. We didn't sign a player until the end of July and people lost their jobs," he said. "We had to sell several of our best young players to make up the £25 million deficit from relegation. It's never easy but thankfully we had enough in the squad to get us back up there. The last four times I've been in the Championship I've managed to get out of it. I'm delighted but it's not all about me."
Meanwhile, Wednesday face a 17th successive year outside the Premier League after a below par display on their first Wembley appearance since 1993.
But manager Carlos Carvalhal is hopeful the momentum from their surprise run to the play-offs will carry over into next season. "We didn't play today like we usually play this season," Carvalhal said. "We are still very happy and proud with what we did. I think we woke up the giant. Sheffield Wednesday will be more respected. This is something we created. Everything will not be like the past. We are in a good way. We must get stronger but we have a good base."
The 25-year-old Gray joins from Bayer Leverkusen, where he had been on loan from Leicester. The contract, till June 2024, includes the option for a fourth year.
The 23-year-old has long had shoulder trouble, nursing the injury for much of last season and during his involvement in Euro 2020, where Rashford was one of several England players who missed a penalty in a shootout loss to Italy in the final.
Virgil Van Dijk has been out of action since suffering knee ligament damage in the Merseyside derby against Everton in October.