After a fantastic couple of weeks for everyone concerned with Sunderland, with a routine win over the Mags and a trip to Wembley on the horizon, it's nearly time to welcome an old 'acquaintance' back to the Stadium of Light. Right now, Hull are experiencing the side-effects of having Brucey as their manager, with a mid-to-late season slump typical with his teams. We couldn't have picked a more convenient time to play them and the three points is vital, but I'm sure a lot of Sunderland fans won't be treating this as just another match.
Mr. Bruce wasn't exactly a beloved figure in the eyes of us Mackems even when we were comfortably in the top half with him, for a reason which I'm sure you'll all already know. Some would argue that his Geordie roots made no difference to our feelings for him and that we'd give him a fair crack of the whip either way, but deep down he was never our first choice as a manager. We had some highs and some (really low) lows, but after a 2-1 home defeat to Wigan, his time was up. Since then he's taken Hull to the Premier League and signed a flurry of former Sunderland players who, much like himself, were never quite good enough, like Ahmed Elmohamady and David Meyler. Despite all this he still harbours a certain bitterness towards his former employers, as evidenced by his interview recently when he accused Sunderland of 'dirty tricks' with Danny Graham. The fact is, he'll be up for this game just as much as we are and the lads will have to be wary to avoid embarrassment against our rejects.
If Saturday's proverbial steam-rolling of Newcastle is anything to go by; a team that Danny Graham had no trouble getting into shouldn't pose much of a threat. But this is Sunderland, and it wouldn't be Sunderland if we were anything close to being consistent. If big Jozy is on song again up front he should be able to absolutely annihilate the Hull defence, and although it's a big ask, if he's ever going to score for us it's got to be now. A debut for Ignacio Scocco would benefit Altidore, giving him someone who can play off him, a fast player who can feed off of Altidore's hold up play in the vain of Crouch and Defoe or even Super Kev and Quinny. Our midfield is fantastic at the minute, Ki and Bridcutt look to be similar players as they always make themselves available for a pass, and can connect with a good few themselves. Considering Hull are quite possibly strongest in midfield, it benefits us massively to have good footballers playing there for us. Knowing we are quite simply a stronger team, there's absolutely nothing to stop us turning Brucey's boys over.
A lot of familiar faces will be returning on Saturday. Some, like David Meyler and Ahmed Elmohamady, might just get a quick round of applause when their name gets read out. Others, like Steves Bruce and Harper, will most likely be given a chorus of boos on entering the ground. Let's just make sure that Bruce leaves as ad and depressed as the last time he was here.