Now it’s Hull’s big chance to follow Sunderland to Wembley
Hull boss Steve Bruce knows what it’s like to win the FA Cup as a player and even lift the trophy as captain, but he has never been beyond the quarter-final stage as a manager. That’s something he is determined to put right when he welcomes former club Sunderland to the KC Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Bruce says he can “smell the hot dogs” now that Hull are just one step away from a Wembley semi-final and Sunderland’s players and fans will still have that smell in their nostrils after their trip to play Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final last Sunday.
The Black Cats unsurprisingly found City too good in the end, but they led at half-time and only lost out to two brilliant strikes and a late sucker punch. They did themselves proud.
But you do wonder whether Sunderland will be emotionally drained from the experience as they face another huge Cup challenge just one week later. Coral make Hull 6/5 favourites to win at the first time of asking (8/11 to progress) and that’s probably the safest option.
Hull’s potential problems are more about personnel. Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic were brilliant January transfer window acquisitions, both scoring when the Tigers completed a Premier League double over Sunderland last month.
But the strikers are cup-tied, while midfielder Robbie Brady is now out for the rest of the season with a groin injury.
Bruce will instead be looking for another contribution from Yannick Sagbo, who kept Hull in the competition with a late equaliser at Brighton in Round 5.
For Sunderland, Fabio Borini will still be feeling good about his fine goal at Wembley, if not the final result, while Jozy Altidore, who played 30 times for Hull back in 2009-10, will be keen to impress against his old club.
According to the Premier League table, Hull are a better team than Sunderland and Bruce will certainly be losing less sleep than Gus Poyet, whose side are still in the bottom three (13/8 to be relegated), despite their excellent Cup runs.
We know that league status can count for nothing, as Sunderland themselves have shown this season, but Hull, so close to being in the semi-final for the first time since 1930, want some FA Cup glory of their own and this is their big chance to grab it.