With reports that Aston Villa have been repeatedly talking to Steve Bruce over the course of the last few days, it seems more than likely that the out of work manager could be in place before the derby with Wolves.
The main issues that would still need addressing – apart from the money – is a discussion between Steve Round and Bruce over the direction and style of Villa going forward and whether or not Steve Clarke is indeed to still have a role at the club. Would Bruce want him? And, would Clarke still want to work at the club after being snubbed for the top job?
At the moment, Clarke is acting as a safety valve for Villa as caretaker manager. There’s not many managers that have been mentioned for the Villa manager’s job, that are a dramatically better prospect than him to be Villa boss in the immediate future.
The club still may decide to keep Clarke in charge in the short-term to buy themselves more time in making the right decision. Remember, Steve Bruce has been the media favourite for the Villa job before, yet got passed over.
There’s a feeling that with the decent new players Villa have, it’s just a matter of getting them better organised to finally get the season started in earnest.
Can Bruce do that? In the short-term, you’d have to say he could, based on his past showings. His record in the Championship stands-up, there’s only question marks in the Premier League.
There’s two main question marks over Bruce though, the first is the scope of his ability and his tag as a journeyman manager.
Would Xia seriously consider him as the solution to fulfil all his initial plans? Lets not forget, Doctor Tony bought the club and was talking about being “top three in the world” and “Champions League in five years”. Bruce doesn’t seem the most obvious choice for that kind of ambition.
Maybe stark reality has now displaced Xia’s initial hype and placebo tweets?
The second main issue is the “ex-Blues factor”. If results remain disappointing under Bruce, Villa supporters could turn on him quickly, or even worse, through apathy, turn their backs on the club.
Villa Ground Zero
This next managerial appointment is key. You could say that about the past couple of ones, but we’re now potentially reaching ground zero. The situation at the club could get bleak quick, if fans finally have had enough – actual physical attendances are already well down on the official attendances given at Villa Park.
Forget Champions League, Villa will be in danger of becoming the next Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest, stuck in the Championship and heading nowhere fast.
Whoever the new manager is, they’ll face the same consequences. The good news is the quality in this league isn’t the greatest. Any new manager would still fancy their chances.
A good run before the turn of the New Year could change the mood at the club. We just need a manager who can get the players committed and organised for the battle ahead.
One thing is for sure though, getting in Bruce will be something of a reality check to Tony Xia, who is fast realising the practicalities of the situation. It’s not about what markets the club well in China (i.e. RDM having won the Champion’s League), it’s about what will get the club promoted.
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