Time for a Much Needed Change in Aston Villa’s Championship Philosophy

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By Howard Hodgson

The Pride’s Future

Steve Bruce has done a lot of good work in restoring some club pride and putting together a dressing room that competed again. Despite trying personal circumstances behind-the-scenes, he’s never shied away from his job at Villa.

On the pitch, he went a certain way in trying to pull off the club’s goal of promotion. While he failed to pull off the initial goal of automatic promotion, he nearly pulled it off via the play-offs, but ultimately the 1-0 defeat at Wembley to Fulham, has to be seen as an expensive failure for Villa.

Without the support of the bulk of the parachute payments and problems with FFP, I can’t see his methods working at all, moving forward.

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Championship Levels

The grim economics of the situation are that we are now a Championship club, on Championship income. We are going to have to do what Fulham and Cardiff have managed this season, which is promotion on far less resources. It will be much harder, but as they have proved, it’s not impossible.

We have to be far more inventive, more attack-minded and inject far more pace into the side. It won’t be easy. We’ve had an embarrassment of riches for this division since we’ve been relegated and that will now change but if we coach well and trust youth as Fulham did.

It can be done, but not with Bruce. He just isn’t capable of delivering that, in my opinion.

People will say “stability” and Neil Warnock managed it the “old fashioned way” but Neil Warnock had pace in his team. We didn’t.

The reality is there will be huge change to the squad anyway, due to the economics of the situation and we all agreed he had to deliver promotion. He hasn’t.

If he can’t deliver it with that embarrassment of riches for the Championship, he won’t next season. It will now be a different financial landscape from what it’s been in the first two seasons in the division.

Xia put everything into getting promotion in this parachute period and we’ve failed.

Bruce relies on defensive organisation and individual talent to get him a goal. With a lot of players like Snodgrass, Terry and Johnstone going, that talent pool will be seriously diluted, so I don’t see him working going forward at all.

Opinion of Change

We all have opinions and this is just mine. Bruce had a good crack at it, but ultimately he came up short and that was largely down to a lack of tactical awareness needed to combat different opponents – the play-off final was a shining example of that.

Now, we have to revert to a longer term building policy and create a team like Fulham have. That’s what I would want for us, anyway.


Follow Howard on Twitter here: @HodgsonHoward

Below, Howard discusses the aftermath of the Wembley disappointment:


These supporter opinion pieces are not necessarily the views of My Old Man Said

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