Football - Meulensteen has respect for Bruce

Being a Premier League-winning captain and working for such a long period under Sir Alex Ferguson are two reasons Fulham boss Rene Meulensteen believes Hull counterpart Steve Bruce is a well-rounded manager.

Meulensteen, who also spent several years working as a coach under Ferguson at Manchester United, takes his Fulham side to Hull on Saturday looking to move out of the bottom three after a vital Boxing Day victory at Norwich.

Bruce won three Premier League titles during a nine-year spell at Old Trafford and was always highly regarded by Ferguson before moving into management himself in 1998.

Since then he has had spells in charge of Birmingham, Wigan and Sunderland in the top flight before guiding Hull back in to the Barclays Premier League last season.

The Tigers sit 12th in the table after a 3-2 defeat at home to United on Boxing Day and Meulensteen feels Bruce's past experiences will continue to serve him well.

"Any manager that has worked or played under Sir Alex Ferguson will have remembered things that they will use," he said.

"I'm sure Steve will be no different at all, Sir Alex always wanted teams to play with a lot of endeavour and speed - you have to see what you have at your disposal but the intentions are there, you only have to look at Hull's 3-1 win over Liverpool.

"He has got his feet under the table in the Premier League, you have an experience of knowing how to play away at all the different grounds and it doesn't phase him any more.

"He has been there, seen it and done it, at different clubs and with different players - plus he has played in it himself which helps."

Meulensteen has reverted to playing Adel Taarabt as a lone forward in recent weeks to utilise his fit players as well as possible and believes Bruce is a master of chopping and changing his own side.

"I like Steve as a person and I know him really well, his transfers his charisma on to the pitch and into the players," he said.

"He has got them playing and isn't too afraid to experiment at times, with three at the back or the straight 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1.

"What you can always say about Steve Bruce's team is that they are generally well organised and have a good energy about them and he gives them the freedom to play as well."

The late win at Norwich came with important players such as Dimitar Berbatov, Maarten Stekelenburg and Brede Hangeland missing through injury.

With the packed festive fixture list throwing up another game just 48 hours later, most of those ruled out at Carrow Road will still be absent at Hull but Meulensteen remains hopeful Berbatov could play some part at he KC Stadium.

"There is a chance that Berbatov will return," he said.

"Again, it has been a late shout, and for the City game as well. He is still not 100 per cent but again he has improved and it will be the same case for the Hull game. Hopefully he will pass the test.

"Maarten was unfortunate in that he twisted his ankle on the last day of training. Luckily he's not as bad as we expected. There's no bone damage as such.

"Having said that, I thought Dave Stockdale was outstanding [at Norwich] - Maarten's definitely not fit for the Hull game and then we have to assess it again."

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