FA Cup still so special for Hull City boss Steve Bruce two decades on from Manchester United glory days
A HOME tie against Leyton Orient may struggle to set pulses racing on third round weekend, but Hull City boss Steve Bruce knows every FA Cup journey requires an opening step.
Bruce is no stranger to success in the famous old competition.
After helping Manchester United to a watershed glory in 1989-90, he went on to lead Sir Alex Ferguson's side to three consecutive finals between 1994 and 1996. A 4-0 victory over Chelsea in the first of those Wembley dates saw him hoist the trophy aloft as the double-winning captain.
Success as a manager has been less kind and, in 12 attempts, a sixth round appearance with Birmingham City in 2005-06 remains his best run.
A 13th FA Cup campaign will begin when the Tigers play host to League One side Orient this afternoon and, despite its fallen status, Bruce admits the competition will always command a special place in his affections.
"I loved the FA Cup as a player, absolutely loved it," he said. "It gave me some of my best memories in the game and I count myself very fortunate to have lifted the trophy.
"It's been a wonderful competition for me over the years and I've found it quite sad to see its significance fall in the last 10 or 20 years.
"Big clubs have diluted the importance of it. It's been inevitable really because it's become much more of a squad game for a lot of clubs.
"That's a real shame in my eyes but it's still a competition that I'd love to see us do well in."
Despite the long-standing fondness, Bruce will take a pragmatic approach to this year's competition.
A superb December has established the Tigers in the Championship's automatic promotion places heading into 2013 and convinced Bruce to make wholesale changes for the FA Cup clash today.
Ahmed Elmohamady, Robert Koren, Sone Aluko and Abdoulaye Faye will all miss out with injuries, while Jack Hobbs will enjoy a rest after heavy demands were placed upon the defender after eight months out.
A host of fringe players will come in to face Russell Slade's men, including forgotten man Cameron Stewart.
The winger has spent the majority of the season on loan at Burnley but returned to the Tigers this week.
Teenage goalkeeper Joe Cracknell will be understudy to Eldin Jakupovic with Mark Oxley cup-tied following his loan spell with Burton Albion.
"I'll make changes but a lot of them will be enforced," explained Bruce.
"Elmohamady, Koren, Aluko and Faye will all be missing because of injuries but we have a strong fit squad that can cope.
"People like Andy Dawson, Paul McKenna, Paul McShane and Tom Cairney all need games.
"The side we put out will be strong enough to win the game. We're taking the game seriously.
"Leyton Orient will come here looking for an upset and we have to make sure we're not one of those sides that's kicking themselves when it's the fourth round draw. We'll give them the respect they deserve and approach the game with the sole intention of getting through."
CITY are expecting a crowd of between 6,000 and 8,000 for today's third round tie, with cash turnstiles available around the KC Stadium.