Keep playing to their strengths and Sone Aluko backs Hull City for automatic promotion
SONE Aluko draws a damning conclusion from Hull City's 2-0 victory over Leeds United a fortnight ago, one the Tigers' faithful will never tire of hearing.
Not since his formative days in schoolboy football can the 23-year-old recall a more one-sided fixture. From someone that spent four years in the Scottish Premier League before his move to the KC Stadium, it is some claim.
The dismal 0-0 stalemate at Blackpool on New Year's Day and an uninspiring 1-1 draw at home to League One Leyton Orient have gone some way to fading memories of City's magical final performance of 2012, but Aluko believes the Leeds demolition must stand as a benchmark for a bright future.
"Once you've reached those heights you want to continue and maintain that level," said Aluko, who will look to recapture the spirit of Leeds when welcoming Sheffield Wednesday to the KC this evening.
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"We're not going to play that well every game and we might not be able to recreate parts of it, but hopefully we'll get lots of performances like that.
"We dominated pretty much all of it. I've always said we've got that in this team if we click. We always create a lot of chances and if we take them we will blow some teams away.
"Have I been involved in a more one-sided game? Not professionally.
"Maybe in school football there was a few. But it's not that Leeds are a bad team. They're a good side. It was more how well we played rather than blowing away a weak team."
Even Neil Warnock admitted as much. The Leeds boss held up his hands in the aftermath of the mauling, describing City as "one of a kind" in the Championship.
Counterpart Steve Bruce believes Warnock's praise instantly changed perceptions of the Tigers as the season turns for home.
No longer can City masquerade as the plucky upstarts yet Aluko is unfazed to see the spotlight shining upon the KC Stadium.
"I think people have taken notice all season," he said. "Maybe not in the media but teams that play against us do change their formation.
"That means they know what we're about so I don't think much will change on the pitch.
"Whether they give us more TV games or a two-minute slot rather than 30 seconds, it's irrelevant by then, the damage is done.
"So hopefully we get more plaudits but what happens on the football pitch shouldn't change too much.
"Maybe there's a different pressure now but for us the biggest pressure is put on by ourselves. We need to get results and be where we say we should be.
"Thankfully we're there now. Teams will turn it on for us but we're good enough to handle that."
Along with fellow summer signings Stephen Quinn and Ahmed Elmohamady, Aluko has been one of the poster-boys inspiring City's impressive season.
Joining a side low on attacking threat in the summer, Aluko's pace and invention has helped transform the Tigers' creative style under Bruce.
A fresh partnership with Robert Koren, first introduced in the Boxing Day draw with Leicester, is the latest attempt to finally rid City of their attacking woes and also underlines the new footballing philosophy instilled at the KC.
"I enjoy playing with Robbie, it's good," he said.
"He's an intelligent footballer, has a good football brain and he's got a few assists for me and vice versa.
"The players we have, it's almost the only way we can play. If we try to play a different game, a long-ball game we don't have the players to do that.
"Not that we're not physical – we can compete with teams – but we're not aerially strong, especially in attack.
"We have the likes of Stephen Quinn, Koren and myself – players who are good on the ball – so you may as well play to strengths and that's what we try."
Sheffield Wednesday's visit to the KC Stadium this evening will see City showcase their talents in front of a national audience for only the second time this season.
The fortunes of promotion rivals Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough, who can both leapfrog Bruce's men in the 3pm kick-offs, could see the Tigers begin the fixture from outside the top two for the first time in three weeks.
Back-to-back league games against struggling Wednesday and Peterborough offer City an inviting chance to cement their position in the automatic promotion places, a lofty aim Aluko has always held this season.
"I always said this is a team that could get promotion," he said.
"That's what we're aiming for. Thankfully, we're walking the walk after what I said at the beginning. I think people are realising it's not just talk.
"The manager is ambitious and the team genuinely believes it can do it. We've just got to keep a consistent run going.
"It was good all the way through December but if we don't continue and build on it then it is wasted."
A run of four consecutive victories last month over Nottingham Forest, Watford, Huddersfield and Derby saw Aluko missing with a calf problem, and he faces Wednesday having not scored since his match-winning brace sank boyhood club Birmingham City on November 17.
Although City showed few signs of missing their top scorer last month, Bruce was a relieved man to see Aluko miss out on Nigeria's squad for the African Cup of Nations beginning next weekend.
Instead the striker will be allowed to spearhead City's promotion push. If there is any lingering disappointment, a ticket to the top flight would provide ample compensation.
"It didn't even cross my mind," he said. "A lot of top class players didn't go like Peter Odemwingie at West Brom and Obafemi Martins in La Liga. They're players in my position playing very well. I'm still only 23 so there are plenty more competitions.
"I think I've done as well as I could for the coaches to select me but I'm concentrating on what I'm doing here and to win promotion here will be a good enough year for me."