Steve Bruce: 12 wins can take Hull City to Premier League
STEVE Bruce has set his Hull City side a target of winning 12 of their final 20 Championship games to claim automatic promotion to the top flight.
The Tigers return to league action this evening looking to maintain their grip on second spot when welcoming lowly Sheffield Wednesday to the KC Stadium.
Unbeaten since November 24, an eight-game unbeaten run has firmly established Bruce's men as a force to be feared in the Championship promotion fight.
City's rapid climb up the table has exceeded their manager's expectations but Bruce has urged his in-form side to find a dozen more wins to see the job through.
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"I'm not going to go blowing a trumpet from the rooftops because I'm aware that football can turn around and bite you just as quickly as it can build you up," said Bruce, who was yesterday crowned the Championship's Manager of the Month for December.
"We've given ourselves a chance to get where we all want to be.
"2012 has gone better than I ever envisaged. I just hoped that we could be there or thereabouts in the play-offs by halfway and hope we could launch a challenge.
"We've given ourselves a great opportunity but that's all it is.
"Let's hope we get a bit of luck along the way but let's see if we can win 12 of the last 20 games. If we can do that then we've got an outstanding chance."
With 49 points already amassed, a further 12 victories would be enough to lift City to 85 points before taking additional returns from draws into account.
Placed in context, that figure would eclipse the final totals of three of the last five second placed sides in the Championship. The 10-year average for the division's runners-up, meanwhile, stands at 86 points.
City have set high standards in a rich vein of recent form, collecting 17 points from a possible 21.
It was also enough to win Bruce his first personal accolade since taking charge of the Tigers after he was yesterday announced as the Championship's Manager of the Month ahead of Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy and Cardiff's Malky Mackay.
After an eight-month spell out of the game preceded his appointment as City boss last summer, Bruce sees the often poisoned chalice as a measure of his managerial rebirth.
But with the Championship beginning to take note of City's rise, the 52-year-old is preparing himself for fresh challenges ahead.
"It's not ideal because afterwards I usually struggle to win a corner," Bruce joked.
"It just shows you. Manager of the Month now and this time last year I was on a beach in Thailand.
"That's how football is. Things turn around for you if you work hard but now's the time to work harder.
"Let's get our heads down and keep it going. I believe that we're just coming out from under the radar and that's when it becomes dangerous.
"Teams are aware of us and a lot of teams have changed formations and shapes to try and combat us. It's something that we'll have to get used to."