Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
It comes as a fitting epitaph to Aston Villa’s recent woes that Steve Bruce is Aston Villa’s new manager. Once upon a time the Holte End used to serenade the ex-Blues boss with “Sit down Potato Head” when he visited as the Blues, Sunderland or Hull boss. Now they’ll have to eat humble pie and hope that their songs about him will be connected to him celebrating victories, promotion and more.
Bruce was always the favourite for the job mainly down to the fact he was out of work and had four promotions from the Championship to his name.
Would Steve Bruce have had a chance at the Villa job, if they had remained a Premier League team? Probably not. Beggars can’t be choosers though – and that is a reality check for the club in terms of how they have fallen.
While a player of great note with Manchester United, the personally likeable Bruce has had a bit of a journeyman reputation as a manager of yo-yo clubs – an identity that Aston Villa don’t really want to add to. Villa is perhaps Bruce’s greatest chance to reach his highest level as a manager, if he seizes the opportunity.
Was he held back by the clubs he managed before? Potentially. While seen as old-fashioned in his methods, he can at least organise teams and certainly inspire them to punch above their weight. You only have to compare the Bruce-managed Hull City’s unfortunate extra-time 3-2 FA Cup final loss to Arsenal in 2014 to the Sherwood-managed Villa’s pathetic 4-0 loss to the same team a season later.
Also, when Bruce led the Blues back to the top-tier in 2002, he took Birmingham City to a six-game unbeaten run against Villa over three seasons, including four wins.
Having lost weight during his time off, this may also indicate a new sharpening of focus by Bruce having noticeably let himself go over the past couple of years.
Tools for the Job
Is he the right man for the job? Is anybody the right man for the job?
It’s pointless hyping up the new Villa boss’s previous four promotions from the league, because as we’ve seen from our new players that have been brought in with “proven Championship experience”, there are no guarantees.
Ultimately, it’s all about results now, that is what Bruce will be judged on and indeed it’s the only way Aston Villa will move forward.
While he’s only got two full days of training before his first game in charge vs Wolves, Bruce does have the players at his disposal to make an instant impact and get Villa to a decent position before the turn of the year.
Certainly with two local derbies in his first few weeks as Villa boss, there is a chance for him to start off on the front foot in winning over the doubters, or like MOMS, the increasingly apathetic.
More views on Steve Bruce and the men that didn’t get the job in the latest episode of the MOMS podcast: