The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers 2016
Despite Championship experience of his own, Di Matteo always seemed a left-field choice.
Now we have Steve Bruce, who not only brings his experience of four Championship promotions, but also seems to be the most universally accepted appointment by the Villa faithful in some time.
With an England vacancy possibly available, Villa acted admirably fast in appointing Steve Bruce, whose history with our neighbours is irrelevant given his Championship record.
A small school of thought claims that Di Matteo should have been given more time, but time is exactly what we don’t have.
In 12th place, Wolves are probably the most unpredictable team in the league, but have recorded some significant away wins this season.
Thankfully, Bruce has had a bit of time to get prepared for Saturday’s match.
Can he kickstart Villa’s promotion campaign?
Bruce on changing mentality
“That’s why I am sitting here – I have got to go and produce a few wins. I understand that.
“There’s a big change in the club in terms of players – nine have come in.
“They haven’t hit the ground running as well as they would have liked to.
“They have been unfortunate in a few games. We have had leads in a lot of them and conceded late on.
“So hopefully we can change that mentality.
“We’ve now got to start winning a few football games and I am sure we are capable of that.”
Walter Zenga on Pressure
“If I don’t accept that somebody can write something bad about me, or without information, I have to change my job!
“I love when the people don’t like me. Do you know why? Because they give me more power to work better.
“If someone writes ‘Oh he didn’t win, it’s better that Mourinho comes’… Well, if you’re thinking that Mourinho brings this team the Premier League after two months… welcome! I’m happy for them!
“My job is hard and more difficult because I watch the training, the game, the opposite team, so I don’t have time all the time to fix everything.
“But I love this kind of pressure, I love this job. I’m enjoying the challenge. This is my character – my strength is all about the enthusiasm and the passion. I create immediately the feeling between me and the club.
“For a coach to know everything about his team he needs some months, not some days. It takes time.”
Wolves are unbeaten in their last three trips to villa park, winning once, and drawing twice
27 August 2011 Aston Villa 0 Wolves 0
It wasn’t a particularly exciting encounter the last time we played Wolves at home
Villa – Last five matches at home: W 1, D 4
Wolves – Last five matches away: W 2, D 1, L 2
One to Watch
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
It’s perhaps fitting that the last time we met Wolves at Villa Park ended with a dull 0-0 draw.
Back in August 2011, Villa were kicking off what would prove to be a terrible few seasons for the club.
In fact, Wolves have a good record at Villa Park – they’re unbeaten in their last three, winning once, and drawing twice.
Villa’s frustrating start to the season shows in the statistics. We’ve picked up more cards than any other Championship team this season, have won just one of our opening 11 games, and have drawn our last four home games.
Avoiding defeat might be the key priority on new man Bruce’s mind, and while understandable for momentum purposes, might make for another stalemate.
It’ll be a tough job for the ex-Hull man. During the past 10 seasons, just 10 of the 30 fallen clubs have made an immediate return. Of the teams that managed it, only one of them changed manager during that season.
Villa haven’t found the net as much as we’d like in the Championship. We’ve scored under 2.5 goals in our last five games, while a new-look Wolves side have managed over 2.5 goals in their last three.
Wolves beat the last recently-relegated side they played in the league, beating Newcastle 2-0 at St James Park.
They also enjoyed their last trip to Birmingham, when they won 3-1 in August.
There’s always some sort of strange coincidence when looking at the history books, and sure enough, Bruce’s first game as Birmingham City manager was against Wolves, albeit away.
Unfortunately though, that was a 2-1 loss…
“I love when the people don’t like me. Do you know why? Because they give me more power to work better” – Zenga on the pressure of the job
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
Whether or not you subscribe to the positive effect of a new manager, the notion of a fresh start will probably energise everyone involved with Villa.
That Gabby Agbonlahor could be recalled into the squad highlights how the slate has been cleaned. This could help shed some of the psychological issues our players seem to have, such as our baffling habit of conceding late goals.
Ayew got injured during the international break on Ghana duty, but did appear to be back in training from the official site’s latest gallery. Even if he’s not fit, Bruce has plenty of attacking talent to choose from, so it’s easy to see why the manager is quietly confident of surging up the table.
Generally, our historical record against Wolves is encouraging. We have won nine and lost just one of our last 14 league games against Wolves.
Despite our poor form, at least we’ve managed to stay unbeaten at home. Wolves on the other hand have lost their last two matches, although they haven’t suffered three in a row since February.
Steve, who spoke well in his press conference this week, seems confident about the job at hand.
Hopefully the Bruce era gets off to a winning start.