Steve Bruce is preparing himself for a busy summer in the transfer market as he prepares for an unexpected tilt at the UEFA Europa League. Hull City were beaten 3-2 in extra-time by Arsenal in an engrossing FA Cup final on Saturday but, with the Gunners already in the UEFA Champions League, will still be embarking on a first ever European campaign next term.
That was hardly part of the plan when Bruce's side won promotion to the top flight just a year ago and it threatens to stretch the club's resources to the limit. As losing finalists Hull must go through qualification before the Europa League group stage gets under way, eating into pre-season and adding more matches to their schedule.
It is a balancing act that Bruce is all too aware of and he acknowledges he will have to recruit well to keep Hull fighting on two fronts. "We have to look forward to European football and we will have to try to enjoy it, but whether we have got the resources and the manpower, I am not so sure," he said.
"We certainly need another five or six players. We've got two, three or four who are out of contract, so we'll now decide what we're going to do and plan a way to come back again. We have to improve, to get better, because you cannot stand still.
"I think we've got four (European) games by the end of August. And a club like ours, I don't think we're ready for that. But we'll have to give it a shot when it comes around. That is always the challenge, can we get bigger and better? We are spending a lot on the academy and have to produce a few players, but that is one for the future I suppose."
Bruce looking into Livermore
Bruce's long-stated first priority is a permanent deal for Tottenham Hotspur's Jake Livermore, who excelled in his season-long loan at the KC Stadium and appears interested in returning to East Yorkshire. Talks may have to wait until Spurs have a new manager in place, which will allow an emotionally drained Bruce some well-earned time off.
"We have got to try to secure Jake if we can afford him," said Bruce. We have to move on, get bigger and better and stronger but let's have a break first. The demands on you are exhausting, but thoroughly enjoyable. It's been a great year. We came very close to winning a cup final and we were 2-0 up against the mighty Arsenal."
Bruce's son Alex, who limped off at Wembley with the side 2-1 in front, believes the way Hull handled themselves in front of a global audience will make prospective new signings sit up and take notice.
"I'm sure my old man will want to bring in that little bit of quality that you need because he'll need to strengthen the squad," said the central defender. "For the manager and the club you want to do well so you can attract the best players. We've definitely put Hull on the map here and showed what we can do. We've made ourselves an attractive club for people."