In the end, the Aston Villa hierarchy could wait no more, Steve Bruce had to go. One win in the last 10 games and only eight wins in his last 24 games in charge, does not equate to promotion-winning form.
There was talk of Bruce having the Preston and Millwall games before the international break, but not winning the first game against the bottom of the table team and the supporters reaction to the Villa boss (including the cabbage incident), spelt ‘game over’.
That extra few more days before the Millwall game will be useful for the search for the new manager, that no doubt already begun weeks ago.
You’d expect a new Villa boss to come in during the international break at some stage.
A failure to reach the play-offs in Bruce’s first season in charge, despite it being his aim, and then coming up short to Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City in the automatic promotion stakes the following season, have hardly impressed.
The identity of Bruce’s Villa was encapsulated in the frustrating 90 minutes of last season’s play-off final at Wembley. A hapless first-half showing and the failure to force a single corner during a game played against 10-men for the final 20 minutes, were typical of the woe of watching Villa under Bruce.
There’s been little progression or signs of a cohesive style of play. Villa are arguably no better off now, than they were when Bruce first walked through the door, almost two seasons ago.
In short, considering the investment made and the needs of two sets of owners Villa have had since he’s been boss, anything other than promotion was failure.
Aston Villa have been in worst positions before in terms of needing a new manager, from Martin O’Neill walking out with days to go to the start of a new season to Roberto Di Matteo sacked so soon into Villa’s first Championship campaign.
This time round any incoming manager will have a decent enough squad of players, although the deficiencies in the goalkeeping position and at centre-back will be a concern until January.
Also, the team are only a win or two away from the play-off spots, in a league that doesn’t seem to have any real outstanding teams this season.
If the new Villa boss can keep Villa in touch before January, then it should still be game on during the run-in.
The realistic expectations now for any new manager would be the play-offs. If they turned the team around into an automatic promotion outfit, it would be a commendable achievement considering the current defensive frailties.
The Aston Villa Statement on Steve Bruce’s Dismissal
Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that manager Steve Bruce and his assistants Colin Calderwood, Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence and Gary Walsh are leaving their posts with immediate effect after having their contracts terminated. The process to appoint a new manager is under way.
A Club statement issued on behalf of the Board said:“We would like to place on record our gratitude to Steve and his team for their hard work and commitment. We wish them well for the future.
“The process of recruiting a new manager has begun. In the meantime, Kevin MacDonald, Aston Villa U23s manager, will be in charge of the team for our trip to Millwall on Saturday.”