‘Mass Hysteria’

With some Villa supporters still frustrated by the previous season, it was as early as the third game of the season that they were calling for Steve Bruce’s head.

Suddenly according to some, the following Norwich City game was a ‘must-win’ and if Villa didn’t win it, then Bruce should be sacked.

Villa won 4-2.

A couple of draws later and suddenly, the same fans on social media were declaring the Middlesbrough game was a ‘must-win’.

Again, they reckoned that if Villa didn’t win it, then Bruce should be sacked.

Villa drew 0-0. Yet, Bruce remained the boss.

Love him or hate him, whatever your views on Villa’s current boss, it’s not productive stumbling game-to-game issuing ultimatums without considering what is currently Villa’s best chance of promotion.

We need cool heads.

At the moment, while it’s still early days in the season, the manager who only just bought in his second batch of players a few weeks ago is currently the best bet for success.

Is any sensible Villa board seriously going to sack a manager three or six games into a season, after a manager has just had a preseason and a summer transfer window? A manager that the Villa CEO Keith Wyness stated last season he would keep even if Villa were relegated?

The answer is no.

Rational

While Villa under Bruce have been unbearable to watch at the best of times in over 40 games, the dynamics of a new season suggests there is a strong chance of improvement on the previous one.

Six of Bruce’s summer recruits played in the 3-0 win at Barnsley. Five of them (Johnstone was obviously also on loan from last January) were fresh to the team from the previous season.

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In terms of an unconvincing start to the season, Bruce also has key returning players like Jonathan Kodjia and Mile Jedinak to add into the mix.

The stakes are high, as promotion must be achieved this season, so consideration of any management change should not be taken likely.

Timing

As MOMS’s writers have stated numerous times on the website the first real performance review of Bruce, if things started to turn sour, would be the second international break, the 11 game mark.

With games in September against struggling teams like Brentford, Bolton, Burton and a team that had a big change over the summer, Barnsley, it looks more than likely that Bruce will pick up enough points to quell the storm of online ‘hysteria’.

The only realistic time that Bruce’s dismissal would be entertained would be if Villa lost touch with the play-off spots before the turn of the year. Then at least any new manager would have a January window and a decent amount of games to launch a promotion scramble.

Bruce Surveyed

MOMS has been running our annual survey over the past few weeks to get supporters views on various issues and it was only natural that several questions about the Villa boss were included.

The two we’ll deal with here are:

‘What’s your opinion of Steve Bruce?’

and

‘How long do you give Steve Bruce, if Villa continue to be outside the top six?’

Bruce Rating

In another question, Villa fans gave an average score of 7 out of 10 for Bruce’s chances of getting Villa promoted this season and that kind of level of sentiment reflects in their overall opinion of him.

If the “mass hysteria” that Bruce referred to wanted him out, in terms of the survey of almost 400 fans that answered the question, only 5% were #BruceOut.

Steve Bruce Fan OpinionThe biggest share of the vote went to declaring Steve Bruce a good Villa boss for this division, largely based on his often mentioned previous promotion stats.

Only 3.3% of fans view him as an ideal Villa boss, although we haven’t had one of them for quite a while. So this suggests Villa supporters view him as the man for the job in hand (promotion from the Championship) rather than the man they’d want as Villa boss per se.

When you look at the results there is a binary paradigm of opinion almost split between those who view him good enough for the task in hand and those who are uncertain and uncomfortable with him.

It’s not a distinct positive vs negative outlook, as very few think he’s ideal and not many fully commit to wanting to sack him.

That might explain why each individual result has brought a wave of reactionary opinion of the Villa boss. There is after all, a lot of grey in the spectrum of views on Bruce.



Promotion Equation

Of course the stakes are high and Bruce’s mission statement reads PROMOTION in indelible ink.

His tenure as Villa boss is underlined by the equation of him staying while he is the club’s best hope of achieving that. If he is not, then any replacement must have a chance to pull off the same mission within whatever is left of the season.

It’s tricky timing and that seems to be appreciated by the responses of Villa supporters when addressing the question of how long would they give him, if Villa remain outside the promotion places.

Only 6% want him gone now, but obviously that is not going to happen.

12.1% wanted to give him the often quoted 10 game minimum.

The ‘until October’ category in results below admittedly is close to that same period, as it’s 11 games until the end of September and Villa only have three games in October (including two away derbies against Wolves and Blues).

Combined together with the 10 games category, it makes up 29.5% for appraising him in Autumn.

when should Villa sack BruceAlmost two-thirds of Villa supporters are more patient though and are not as reactionary as this ‘mass hysteria’ label suggests.

The most popular response was to give him until the end of the year, which as MOMS suggested earlier in the article, was probably the most logical approach.

Bruce is unlikely to leave us out of touch from promotion in the immediate short-term, so lets see how it pans out. Last season, his real issues only happened in the months of January and February.

So the Villa board would be able to make a more sober decision in the run up to Christmas and it would give any new boss the option of the January window to at least make some tweaks.

In the meantime, Bruce has plenty of time to gel the current team with the new additions and get the results to fully prove he’s the man for the job.

Watershed

The Barnsley game was the first time for a while that Bruce ventured to play his favoured 4-4-2 with his preferred two up top.

Previously the Villa boss has admitted that he might not have had the personnel to pull it off effectively, but Robert Snodgrass and Keinan Davis are key to now enabling such a transition.

Snodgrass adds a lot of bite to the midfield for a wide man to supplement his qualities going forward, so he beefs the midfield up. While Davis brings players into the game and also poses a physical presence for Villa in their own box when defending set pieces too.

So in short, both strengthen the all-round functioning of the team.

In MOMS opinion, the line-up against Barnsley finally seemed to be Bruce finally finding his ideal starting XI.

It’s taken him a while, but the defence has three clean sheets on the bounce and a midfield in Hourihane, Snodgrass and Adomah has goals and assists written all over it.

Then when it comes to the potential new forward partnership of Davis and Kodjia, what defence will look forward to playing against them?

While it seemed that winter was already coming for Bruce, it looks increasingly likely that this forthcoming autumn period will ultimately have the biggest say in his future.

Judging by the findings of MOMS survey, it seems that most fans at least are clearly prepared to give him that time.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Finally, after three clean sheets on the spin proving that this new Aston Villa back four can actually defend … its time for the whole squad and coaching staff of the Aston Villa Football Club to galvanize themselves on the back of those three ‘clean sheets,’ and press on-wards and upwards by embarking on a 15 to 20 game unbeaten run ..

    And if they were to lose one then start another long unbeaten run right of the base of that particular disappointment..

    If they do that, then away winning days (and deep cup runs) will become the new ‘norm’, with Villa Park not only rocking come March/April 2018 of next year but the famous old Lady will be absolutely packed to the rafters with 40,000 plus attendances being the new ‘norm’ With Villa’s legions of supporters urging them on ultimately towards a possible (if seemingly highly improbable just last week) cup winning and promotion clinching double!

    Feeling positively hopeful in Seattle ..

  2. I agree players take time to gel. So why buy more! Especially as they are no better on paper. What happened to gelling the players he bought in last Christmas? 25 games ago? I think if he had not won at Barnsley ( I’m pissed because I did not go) failure to beat Forest or maybe the 2 games after would have seen him go and rightly so. So Mr Bruce let’s stop the Hysteria of only our second win of the season. We have 3 more games in the next 2 weeks plus league cup. Ypu need 7 points from those easy 3 games just to get above mid table and keep in touch with the play offs. That’s twice as many wins as we have already had and we have hardly played anyone in the top half. When we are within 5 points of promotion maybe the Hysteria will stop. Let’s hope that is in 2 weeks time.

    • With six of the summer transfers (including Johnstone) playing against Barnsley, you’d have to say that Villa did need more players. BTW, we’re currently now five points from the play-offs. But yes, lets see where we are at the end of the month, rather than going match-to-match, which is unsettling.

      • On current form of the top teams, 7 points from the next 3 games, which would be a massive improvement and should be achievable, will still leave us 7 points below the top 3 or 4 teams if Ipswich win the game in hand. We need a run of 15 points from 18 to mount a challah get. We have not looked like winning 3 games from 4 for years! Best match I have enjoyed for years was the win over Wigan with the kids. They were committed, disciplined and magi native. If only the first team was the same. I’ll be there tonight?

  3. The notion that stability can be gained through instability is similar to borrowing your way out of debt. Bruce should be given until the end of the season but promotion or not he must then go, he does not have the ability to manage in the Premiership and if he can’t get us up with his own selection of players and a huge budget. Well he has been given a fair chance.

  4. Of course when new players come in it will take time to gel. Villa’s spent millions in recent transfer windows and then we change the Boss crazy way to run a club. Some of our young players coming through the academy have had 5 or 6 coaches over a 5 year period how confusing is that. Bruce has been unlucky with injuries to key players but given time this team will be very good. Three clean sheets now in three games on the bounce and with key players coming back it starts to look good. Calm down boys and get behind the players. The toxic atmosphere at VP needs to be shifted that’s where the supporters ( 12th Man ) come in.
    Don’t balls the season up get behind the lads.

  5. Can’t disagree ! The Get results or get sacked brigade do not seem to take into account that each time we get a new influx of players they need time to gel as a team/squad

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