Ehab Allam: Exciting Hull City have a good chance of promotion
ASSEM Allam joked during Steve Bruce's first press conference as Hull City manager in June that his new appointment would be "very expensive... but worth every penny."
Six months on and the sentiment continues to ring true in the Tigers' boardroom.
Turning to a two-time Championship promotion winner and veteran of a decade in the Premier League, City's decision to place faith in Bruce this summer has been repaid with the brightest of starts.
Twenty one games into his reign at the KC Stadium and the 53-year-old has already returned 12 wins and 38 points.
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Only the top two of Cardiff and Crystal Palace can boast a better record as the half-term reports are compiled and vice chairman Ehab Allam, son of owner Assem, is delighted with the promise on show under Bruce.
"Steve's done a fantastic job in his first six months," Allam told the Mail.
"His selection of players that we've brought in has been excellent and they've blended in very well to the existing squad.
"The style of play has improved considerably. We look threatening and even when we go a goal down, you still feel positive we can get a win, never mind a draw.
"It's the first time I've had the confidence in the squad to still be capable of getting results even if we go behind.
"If you look at the previous two seasons it was all too often 'game over' if that happened.
"You always have hope with the way this side plays. We're creative, we're exciting to watch and, above all else, we're winning games."
Bruce has wasted little time stamping his mark on the Tigers this season and an attack-minded approach has won no shortage of admirers.
Although a sequence of three consecutive defeats brought a fleeting dip during late September and early October, a stirring response of 25 points from the last 12 games has established the Tigers as a top-six mainstay.
A 2-1 win at Watford on Saturday, City's third consecutive away victory, opened up a five-point gap between Bruce's men and seventh-placed Millwall, and also clawed them to within three points of Crystal Palace in second.
The Tigers will reach the halfway mark in their season following Saturday's visit of Huddersfield and the trip to Derby County on Friday week, and Allam can see ample cause for hope in 2013.
"We're very content with the first half of the season," he said.
"The style of play gives you hope and confidence to take forward. Even when we've come away having lost games this season, you can still come away thinking the side has performed well.
"Okay there has been the odd poor performance but there's always hope that the team can respond and win the next game."
Bruce's influence has quickly restored calm following a turbulent summer at the KC Stadium.
The unexpected departures of manager Nick Barmby and head of football operations Adam Pearson in the immediate aftermath of a failed promotion bid left the Allam family wide open to criticism from fans.
A fresh start has appeased supporters hurt by the exits of Barmby and Pearson in May, and Allam says the new union masterminding the Tigers' fortunes is working well.
"We have a very good working relationship," he added.
"One of the things we were keen to change was to have a direct line of communication between ourselves and the manager.
"I find things are working much more smoothly this way. We have good communication and a good rapport with Steve.
"We speak whenever is necessary. It can vary from being on a daily basis to as and when it's needed. It's a relaxed and easy-going relationship."
Allam will eventually see the wisdom of Bruce's appointment measured by the levels of success enjoyed during the length of the manager's three-year contract.
City's vice chairman made it clear during pre-season that he would like to see a top-six finish this season.
Having been ever-presents in the Championship's play-off zone for almost seven consecutive weeks, the targets set are halfway to being realised by Bruce.
Support in the January transfer window promises to aid City's position in a congested promotion race and help reaffirm a belief that City can return to the top flight at the third time of asking.
"I've never predicted promotion but we've always wanted a promotion push," said Allam.
"There are no guarantees in this division but I feel as though we're more than capable of finishing in the top six.
"I had that belief at the start of the season and there's been nothing so far to change my mind.
"You need a bit of luck to steer clear of injuries but there's no doubt we've got the capability here.
"We're sitting joint third after almost half of the season so it's an appointment that has been fully justified.
"We're three points off automatic promotion and in a group of teams who have a very good chance of winning promotion.
"Although it was a difficult summer, I feel as though we're in a stronger position for going through it."