After three games in charge in just over a week at Aston Villa Football Club, Steve Bruce has acquired seven points out of a possible nine. If you consider that Roberto Di Matteo only managed to achieve ten points from a possible thirty-three, this is quite a start. No doubt if you had offered the tally to Bruce or to any fan before the new gaffer’s first three games they would have taken it.
Since arriving, Bruce has done and said the right things. Firstly, he has acknowledged the size of the football club and sees it as the biggest club he has managed. Secondly, in less than a week at the club, he oversaw our first win away from Villa Park in four-hundred and thirty-seven days, which also coincided with the ending of Reading’s unbeaten home record. Furthermore, the 1-0 win over Fulham on Saturday saw the end of the Cottagers’ unbeaten away record this season and saw the Villans achieve back-to-back wins for the first time since May 2015.
Defensively, Bruce has ensured the team is much more resolute, with a better shape to the side as a whole. Perhaps we were fortunate to concede just the one goal versus Wolverhampton Wanderers but we have followed that up with good performances against Reading and Fulham, when Pierluigi Gollini’s goal was not troubled too much. The two goals conceded by Gollini have come following mistakes by Aly Cissoko which led to penalties being awarded. He has since been replaced in the side by Jordan Amavi, who was impressive in Saturday’s victory over Fulham.
Ashley Westwood too has lost in place in the Villa side having being a regular starter since his arrival in 2012 from Crewe Alexandra. Gary Gardner has been favoured in midfield in our last two wins, with Bruce giving special praise to him and Nathan Baker following the result at Reading for their pride in playing for the shirt. Perhaps, given the inclusion of these two, his recent praise of Jack Grealish and with Gabby Agbonlahor edging back towards the first team picture, the manager sees the importance of local lads playing for the club. This will no doubt come feature in his thinking when we play at St. Andrew’s next week.
Jonathan Kodjia has of course been the standout performer in the last three game, finding the net in each of Bruce’s first three games with a cool penalty, a deflected effort and fantastic volley all adding to his tally this season and paying back chunks of his hefty transfer fee.
Special mentions should probably also go to two men who aren’t, for different reasons, everyone’s favourites: Alan Hutton and Leandro Bacuna. They have given their all in the last couple of games, games which have seen back-to-back victories. If they can continue in the same vein, things that happened in the past can be forgotten about.
Hopefully, next Sunday we can continue not to look back in anger and witness Steve Bruce celebrating on the pitch at St. Andrew’s to really give him the Bruce Almighty tag!