Last week Villa boss Steve Bruce spoke about being two points adrift of where he wanted to be after his first 10-games in the job and the ultimate aim to average two points a game to bring play-off success. The win against QPR clawed him back to one point behind schedule, while a home win against Burton on Boxing Day will get him on track for a two point average since taking over as Villa boss.
Bruce is obviously keen to add to his record of getting clubs promoted from the Championship. He did it with Birmingham in 2002 and 2007, while he also gained promotion into the Premier League with Hull in 2013 and 2016. Currently, Villa can be backed at 6/1 for promotion this season to keep up Bruce’s excellent record in the division.
it seems though that the Villa boss sees the play-offs as the best case scenario to achieve that.
“Now we probably have to be more than two points a game now if we’re going to get anywhere near the play-offs,” said Bruce.
“If you get the two points a game, usually in this league it’s enough. So that’s always the target.”
Since taking over the job, in terms of what has been put in front of him, Bruce has indeed achieved play-off form with the team, as the below table of games played while he’s been boss demonstrates.
After the single win of Di Matteo, while decent enough progress, the turnaround hasn’t been quite as spectacular as what Steve McClaren has done at Derby (including a seven-game winning streak) or even Gary Monk, nor has the Villa team matched the league’s pace setters Newcastle or Brighton.
There is of course some catching up to do after the club’s poor start to the season. That’s the reason Villa still reside in the bottom half of the league in 13th place, as we approach the half-way mark of the season.
Work to Be Done
Currently, there is little sense of a Bruce turnaround on the pitch in terms of performances. Wins have come mainly from single-minded moments of brilliance after a disjointed and frustrating team display. Take the late Wigan winner from Jack Grealish, and the efforts of the main go-to guy Jonathan Kodjia against the likes of Fulham and QPR.
Some fans will point to the fact that it’s results that count, but a team playing badly will only win so many games though and normally against lesser opponents.
The £50m+ of players bought in the summer have far from gelled into any semblance of a team and it’s a concern. Villa have tended to come up short when playing any well-drilled team in the Championship. Five of the team’s seven wins have been against bottom six teams. A win against Burton will make it six out of six, but Villa will need to start beating the teams above them in the play-off spots to make any serious inroads themselves this season.
Judge them more on what they do against Leeds at Villa Park, rather than what they do on Boxing Day against Burton, over the Christmas period.
Currently sitting 9th in current form over the last six games, Villa will want to be more in the top four teams in terms of form over the next six games – and a favourable January fixture list should aid that.
By the sounds of owner Tony Xia’s social media output, Villa’s core January window purchases should be take place more towards the start of the transfer window than they were during the summer. Bruce has recently declared that two signings were pretty much in the bag.
Hopefully by buying the right two or three players, Villa will in turn gain an actual team, as the additions help click everything into place.