Strange week for Villa fans as Steve Bruce of all people ends up pulling off the first Aston Villa away win in more than a year. What else have Villa fans learned from the beginning of the Bruce era?
HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLVES
Wolves were well up for it in Bruce’s first game at Villa Park. Like so many of Villa’s Championship opponents they smelled blood in the water and saw Villa as a scalp ripe for the picking. And frankly, a point was completely undeserved.
With just a couple of days to prepare, he was never going to have time to switch to his tactical vision from… whatever DiMatteo’s tactical vision was… but a point in a game that could have been all over bar the shouting of “BRUCE OUT” after an hour was a much better start than a familiar loss would have felt.
Oh, Jack Grealish. Remember that game when Jack came on against Hull and was booted to the ground by half their team? And remember those times when Jack has flopped looking for a foul and been told off for it? His retaliatory lashed-out stamp kick thing against Wolves has cost him three games and a potential starting place in Bruce’s best XI if they can keep finding results without him in the team – and that’s a shame but it’s his own fault.
He’s clearly a marked man: the media like to pick on him, the opposing fans like to pick on him, and while he’s shown flashes of what he can do, the home fans are increasing frustrated with him. This column wants nothing more than to see him light it up and make a big difference in a game regularly. But after 38 appearances and three goals, those moments have been few and far between.
… AT LEAST NOT TODAY
The win at Reading was a long time coming, but it was a sweet moment and the first step to rewarding the long suffering traveling support for their patience. With Villa’s massive away following the envy of not just the Championship but the Premiership too (numerically) the late penalty won and scored by Bruce’s substitute Ayew was the biggest positive of the week. The curse is over.
The fans shouted Bruce’s name – much to his own surprise – at the final whistle and a potential Villa anthem (Don’t Look Back In Anger) was born. You see, Bruce isn’t McLeish. McLeish wasn’t liked from the start certainly because of his City ties but also because he was crap. Bruce has history of promotions and survival in the Premiership with far less resources than Dr Tony has in his bread bin. All fans want is to know the nightmare of the past few seasons is over and the upturn has begun.
And finally, Gabby could be on his way back. Even fully fit he might be as low as the sixth or seventh choice striker on the depth chart, but what the hell. Nobody wants to buy him, he doesn’t want to go on loan, and we’re paying him. Get him fit and when he’s ready to go, give him a run out once in a while. Or don’t. If he didn’t have such deep roots with the club he’d be a forgotten man.
Follow Adam Keeble on Twitter @keebo00
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