Steve Bruce’s reign as Aston Villa manager has been a Jekyll and Hyde experience. It was only a month ago when sections of the Villa faithful were questioning whether Bruce should even be in charge of Aston Villa (I was also edging into this camp). The club was on a run of 9 defeats in 10, and precariously close to the relegation zone – the unthinkable started to become a possibility. The team lacked any identity or style, confidence had hit rock bottom again, and the manager was being questioned over some of his January signings, and in particular Sam Johnstone, a rookie goalkeeper. Dr Tony Xia and Keith Wyness continued to back their man, and did not give in to the mounting pressure to make yet another change.
Bruce pleaded for patience, and 6 games, 5 wins and 5 clean sheets later the thought of relegation is a distant memory and Villa can look at a top 10 finish in the Championship. Football really can change that quickly, but due to Bruce’s results being so poor, it was hard to see at the time when the next win was going to come. I think the manager was another few losses from potentially losing his job, and I am pleased he is slowly turning it around. The dreadful run in January and February killed Villa’s promotion charge, and for that Bruce has a big black mark against his name, however, Villa need stability for the next couple of years, and with 8 games remaining, there is no reason why Villa can’t go undefeated. The team are only playing for pride at this stage, and I really didn’t think at the start of the season we would be anywhere but the automatic promotion spots. It just shows that money can’t buy the league.
Bruce has learned the hard way during his time at Villa. Putting 5 new players in the team at the same time at an away game, chopping and changing the formation constantly, and bringing ‘the old guard’ back in have all been to disasters to Villa’s season. Since then, new players have settled down and Bruce has stuck to a formation, the results have drastically changed. Whilst the brand of football is not exciting, I won’t complain at conceding 1 goal in 6 matches.
The foundations for next season are beginning to be laid, and we have a squad easily capable of an automatic promotion spot next season. Villa have a few weeks off during the international break before back-to-back home games against Norwich and QPR, where Villa’s good form should continue. The way Villa end the season is important for the players, prospective signings and most of all, the fans. The faithful need to feel that Villa can be promoted next season and it would be fantastic if in the remaining 8 games, Villa didn’t lose. Make it happen Steve, you’ve got the chance to put Villa back on its feet again. UTV!