Manager of the Month
While Steve Bruce currently has more important things on his mind with the sad passing of his father and illness of his mother, being named Sky Bet Championship Manager of the Month for January will give him some crumbs of professional comfort.
Go back to September 16th on the eve of Villa’s trip to Barnsley and even Bruce himself confided, after one win in Villa’s first seven games, he was one game away from the sack before Villa beat Barnsley 3-0 away from home.
Then came the drought of December, as Villa went five games without a win. Villa’s 1-0 away win at Middlesbrough at the end of December, was both a pivotal win for Bruce and the club.
In many ways, it spurred on the team to reach the heights of a 100% January, including a 5-0 spanking of Bristol City. Now, they are just one point off the automatic promotion places, the destination they are very much now seeking.
While recent games against both Sheffield United and Burton haven’t produced convincing performances from Villa, there is a sense there is more to come from Bruce’s team.
Aston Villa assistant manager Colin Calderwood, who picked up the Manager of the Month award due to Bruce’s family trauma, said: “We’ve had some tough games in Bristol City and Sheffield United, teams in around us, and the importance of those games brought us to a new level of performance.
“We had difficult moments in those two games especially but we ended up coming out with positive results and I think it’s that type of thing that helps get runs going. Our performance level has been good but the quality of our goals has been excellent. ”
The Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for January was won by Fulham winger Ryan Sessegnon.