It has been quite a turnaround for Villa and it is no coincidence that Steve Bruce has been the driving force behind the upturn in fortune. Villa find themselves within touching distance of the play-offs and, with twenty-five points from fifteen matches in charge, there is a restored confidence around B6.
Rewind three months and Aston Villa was a club in turmoil and on the brink of freefalling into the abyss. Roberto Di Matteo had been offered the poisoned chalice of restoring Villa’s fortunes and after eleven games with only one win in the Championship the inevitable sword fell with Villa sitting nineteenth in the table.
Aston Villa had become the laughing stock of English football. After six managers in two years, hopelessly relegated from the Premier League, the club had been dragged through the mud. The Villans were damaged goods.
Step forward Steve Bruce. The fifty-six-year-old has revitalised the club and promotion back to the top flight is still on the cards. As soon as Bruce was appointed, he recognised the stature of the club. People began to take note – Aston Villa meant business.
Bruce was quoted in The Birmingham Mail as saying: “I know for a fact exactly what needs to be done. I’m under no illusions how difficult it’s going to be. My first priority, of course, is to get out of this league that we’re in.”
He added: “I’ve waited twenty years for an opportunity like this so I’ll do everything I possibly can [to get promoted.]”
Bruce has restored belief, confidence and determination in the squad, three ingredients which have been missing from the club for some time. He has been a breath of fresh air.
The Villans have gone from squandering points against the likes of Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Brentford and Barnsley to grinding out wins against Reading, Fulham, Wigan Athletic, Burton Albion and Queens Park Rangers. The club has momentum and the fans believe in Bruce’s project.
The club dreams about returning to the ‘promised land’ that is the Premier League and there is no doubt that Steve Bruce is the man to make it possible. It is the best league in the world and a club of Villa’s history should be there on merit. Buy your football tickets today from Football Ticket Pad.
However, if Bruce is to secure promotion he needs to invest in January and the need for a goalscorer has never been more apparent. Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ross McCormack are the only two recognised strikers with question marks remaining over the long term future of Rushian Hepburn-Murphy. Jonathan Kodjia and Jordan Ayew are both away at the Africa Cup of Nations and the £6 million sale of Rudy Gestede to Middlesbrough has seen the goals dry up.
The Villans are climbing back to their feet, a process that will take time. The fans are behind the owner and the manager – a stark contrast to twelve months earlier under the Randy Lerner regime. Aston Villa Football Club is very much a ‘work in progress’ and there is a sense of realism which requires the club to give Bruce time to turn the club’s fortunes around. The odds may be stacked against Villa, but let’s hope for the sake of English football that we see the Villans back where they belong sooner rather than later.