An open letter to Steve Bruce

Bruce is helping fans believe.

Dear Mr Bruce,

I would normally use this as a platform to discuss a player, a performance, transfers or another topic but I feel I’ve been left with no other choice as to what I write about this week.

Before I go on to air my primary views, I have backed you from the start and the club that plays a huge part of my life, as it does with so many others. I will continue to do the same with the same ferocity and passion I have done since my late father first took me down to Villa Park in the days of Big Ron.

I will also be off to Barnsley tomorrow, with thousands of other die hard fans, singing our hearts out as many of us do every single week, no matter what the result or the kind of day we have had at work.

However, I feel the last few weeks have really struck a nerve. Granted, there are a lot of people posting abusive, mindless and embarrassing posts on ‘social media’ and the radio ‘phone ins’ as you mentioned in your press conference today. But there are an awful lot of supporters who have had enough who are actively expressing their thoughts without the abuse.

When I say people have had enough, this is down to a combination of things and more notably the people involved. We have seen the heart and soul ripped out of our great club in the last few years and it kills me to say the club itself deserved it.

We didn’t.

Yet we still come back, we invest, we watch, we listen to everything Villa related.

The Championship is a difficult league and well done for your promotions, including the ‘two in the last five years’ that you referred to as well this morning. There’s no doubting it is quite an achievement.

Dr Tony Xia has worked hard to bring the club back to some sort of level of respect. We have been shown more respect and attention than we ever experienced under our previous owners and I do feel there has ‘been progress made in what has been a difficult period for the club’ – another comment you made this morning. The trouble is, on the pitch I have to differ.

When we were relegated, you were right in that we did only win 5 games in 18 months. The club and team were a shambles. Some of the mercenaries are still there today picking up a wage which we contribute to and we can’t wait to see them move on.

But it shouldn’t be overlooked that this disgrace of a team was also in the Premier League playing the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea as well as teams like Everton and Tottenham Hotspur who we were at a crossroads with a short time ago. Since then it feels like the handbrake has been taken off and we’ve rolled backwards and can’t fix the issue. We have a hugely expensive squad, by Championship standards, struggling to compete with the likes of a depleted Brentford at home.

If the ‘progress’ you say we have made relates to the football we play and the results then that’s where we have to disagree. Other than a very occasional flash of brilliance we are one place better off in relation to last year. The players have looked scared and the forward thinking players look like they have no freedom to express themselves.

I totally understand the principle of Rome not being built in a day. But you have been here since October last year and have had both sound backing in the finances you have had and in the players you have chosen to bring in.

With the attacking minded players being held back, perhaps this is why many are labelling us ‘boring’.

I got back from a long summer holiday and after landing, I went more or less straight to Bristol City away. I’ve seen 4-5-1 every game since and a lack of cohesion between the midfield. I’ve seen Keinan Davis for all his hard work and endeavour have no support when putting himself about alone up top.

Expressive football is what draws in the fans, winning football too and it feels like we are often set up to avoid defeat as opposed to trying to grab the game and impose ourselves.

You also mentioned that we have had chances in games like Cardiff and Reading away to take the lead, but on the other hand we’ve had Sam Johnstone to thank for not losing any more points than we already have. Brentford again was a key example of this.

It may sound like I’m going for the jugular and I’m negative or maybe even ‘a dinosaur’ for stating some old comments, but as a fan of good quality football and most importantly Aston Villa, I want to see people coming to Villa Park with anticipation, not choosing to avoid going as it’s becoming a nuisance and a disappointment.

You may go on to deliver your word and get us into the top six or beyond and there’s nothing I’d want more.

I know it’s still only seven games in. But how often have we said ‘its only’ before it has been too late.

The return of injured players will be a great benefit to us but we have to rely on team performances, not just those that have been missing.

I’m going to finish by wishing you all the best for the future, whatever it holds. Despite what I’ve said, like every game I can’t wait for tomorrow as I feel the night before every game. I just hope I’ll be seeing us pressing for goals, chasing every ball and with freedom. You allow those and you’ll win over the majority of the Villa faithful.

You and the players will have my backing yet again but to be brutally honest, my patience is fast running out.

Yours sincerely,

One of the ‘minority’


  1. I think Bruce has had enough time to be honest! With the squad he has at his disposal, we should have accumulated more points and have a better goal-per-game ratio. I like Bruce, but I’m in agreement that the ‘we can’t loose’ attitude rather than risk-taking, free-flowing style of play, is ripping the soul out of our club. Appointing Bruce was always a risk but if we get a few performances not unlike the one at Norwich, I’m sure it will ease some of the tension. Two more defeats or even draws, and I fear the axe may be weilded. I this is to be, a younger, more attacking-minded replacement is imperative. Thanks for you letter. UTV!

  2. Nick, good article, I have been going regularly to V P since 1953 and therefore feel qualified to comment, during the years of watching Villa I have seen some rubbish, but this team are not rubbish just demotivated and shackled. The coaching and tactics at first team level is sadly lacking and therefore it is Mr Bruce’s fault, and as for his claim that he has had two promotions in the last five years, well that got him the job, what he does now will either help him keep the job or lose it.

  3. Very good article, I have to say that I have supported Villa for much much longer than you but in general I agree with your comments, however not withstanding his previous record I have never been a Bruce fan and nothing has happened to change that, yes a couple of wins might propel us up the league but a couple more losses and we are in deep trouble. I think we had the Middlesbrough game on a plate but we failed to take advantage 18 shots 6 on target is not good enough and the result not acceptable, we are all entitled to our opinion but mine is loose tomorrow and Bruce must go, if I’m honest for me he should have gone after the last game. Anyway hoping for the best tomorrow.

  4. We need to keep the faith . 7 managers in 7 years . Come on boys give our heads a little wobble . Bruce as the experience to get us out this hard division. Every team in this division are capable of beating one and another. Pretty sure when AF took over Man Utd they won fuck all from 1987 -1990 . 3 years it took him to win a trophy. So let’s give Bruce a little more time . As a villa season ticket holder I’m just as pissed off as the next supporter next to me . In Bruce I trust.👍

  5. I think we’re just two or three lads away from a really good team.
    There’s a lad called Tony Morley – I’m told he’s as good as Cheeko Hamilton.
    We should sign him. And there’s a young kid coming through the ranks – Shaw I think is his name.
    Those two and maybe if we put in a bid for Ken McNaught we’ll be well on our way.

  6. How is another managerial change likely to improve matters ?
    Every man and his dog , except Lassie and Scooby-do have been tried. It’s time to to stop moaning, it’s time to get behind Bruce draw, lose or lose. 21 years of achieving naff all with regular sackings says it all.
    Its the fans who have created the putrid and toxic atmosphere which lingers over Aston each home game.
    Will that ever change ?
    Dr Tony needs to back Bruce now with a genuine vote of confidence rather than twittering his normal garbage and tell the fans to shove it if they don’t like it. If the players are reassured that Bruce is going to be here for the next 3-5 years they’ll probably apply themselves to either jumping ship or at least accepting that they are nothing more than a bunch of over paid and under achieving lightweights.
    It’s about time that a little more backbone was shown from the fans. Get real ! This whole club is going nowhere but Bruce is only the third most significant factor in its continuous demise ! Tony and the fans are culpable.

  7. Well said, Darren K. The fact of constant change in 7 years is one of the reasons why we should keep our heads. It’s easy to get carried away, and though I agree Bruce has made mistakes, I think a lot of the issue is down to what he inherited. I’m a very long-time supporter too – my first game was ca. 1950 – but I’ve yet to understand the need to call for a manager’s head before he’s had chance to play a settled team so soon after the summer signings. We scored 4 against Norwich and have missed a lot of goal chances since. I say let’s keep our cool until at least September is out.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here