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Steve Bruce's signings

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The Birmingham Mail did a feature on Steve Bruce's 21 Aston Villa signings so I thought it would be a bit of fun to rate them myself. Feel free to share your thoughts below:


Scott Hogan - £9.45m

Struggled to settle at Villa for whatever reason. Didn't help that his style didn't suit Steve Bruces style of play which made the signing even more bizarre. Now plays across the city at Small Heath.

Rating: 1/5

James Bree - £3.15m*

Bree signed as part of a deal involving Conor Hourihane* (more on him later). There was promise at first but another signing who was able to step up. There was a lot of talk about players struggling with the pressure of playing for a club of Villa's stature, the full back did come to mind when this comment was made. Now plays for Luton.

Rating: 1/5

Henri Lansbury - £3.06m

I liked Lansbury a lot at Nottingham Forest so i was pleased when we signed him. However, thats where it ended. Many semed to believe that the former Arsenal man was an attacking kind of player but he produced his best form as a deep-lying playmaker at Forest and arriving late to attacks scoring some decide long range efforts. Bruce never used him in this way and he has struggled since his move. I am sure he has done well financially from the deal as he is still at the club.

Rating: 1/5

Conor Hourihane - £3.15m*

Hourihane was signed along with Bree as mentioned earlier and is probably one of Bruce's best signings. Compared to Villa's modern day version of David Platt. Was marmite with some fans but i think we can all agree that at the price we paid and what he did for the club during a difficult spell was money well spent. Recently joined Swansea on loan and I wish him all the best.

Rating: 4/5

Birkir Bjarnason - £1.80m

One of many Icelandic players who made their way to bigger clubs following their heroics at International level. Bjarnason was a work horse but it was clear from the offset that he was never going to be anything more than a bit-part player. He now plays in Italy with Serie B side Brescia.

Rating: 2/5

Sam Johnstone - Loan.

Signed on loan from Manchester United on two separate occasions. After a rocky start he settled in and most would have taken him on a permanent deal had it been possible but we all know about the Dr Tony scenario. Now plays for Midland's rivals West Brom.

Rating: 3/5

Neil Taylor - Part/Ex.

Joined as part of the deal that saw Jordan Ayew join Swansea. To this day, some Villa fans still question the idea behind that deal. Its nothing against Taylor who has done a decent job at Villa if not fantastic. He is now regarded as a vital part of the changing room for his experience and personality more than anything with captain Jack Grealish recently referring to him as a 'GOAT'.

Rating: 3/5

John Terry - Free Transfer

Despite his age, the John Terry transfer was regarded has a brilliant piece of business. Bruce would have you believe that he was forced to sign players like this on free transfers but was quick to stop at what Terry would have been paid and that he would probably prove to be one of his most expensive deals overall. Regardless of this Terry was solid at Villa and a big part in why we are back in the Premier League. He is now a coach at the club.

Rating 4/5

Robert Snodgrass - Loan

Another deal with a very low initial outlay but a package deal that wouldn't have been cheap overall. None the less, Snoddy was hugely popular with both the players and the fans and played a big part in bringing the players and fans close again following the relegated season. Like Johnstone, probably would have signed on a permanent deal had Dr Tony not got us in such a financial mess.

Rating 4/5

Chris Samba - Free

A strange deal at the time and even more so when you look back at it. Was way off the pace and Bruce used every opportunity to lump the big man up top. Retired.

Rating 1/5

Glenn Whelan - £1.53m

Whelan was one of those signings that I feel fitted both parties at the time. Villa needed an experienced calm head even if he wasn't spectacular on the pitch. I remember we played a pre-season friendly against Shrewsbury and he had a 5 minute spell where he dictated the play and was pinging ball around as if he was Pirlo. Friends of mine never let me live down the fact I used Whelan and Pinging in the same sentence. Now plays for Fleetwood.

Rating 3/5

Ahmed Elmohammady - £990k

The Egyptian God as he is refereed to by so many Villa fans these days. This was a signing that was always going to happen having played with Bruce more than once at various clubs. He was a signing i struggled with for a while and i struggled to understand the fascination by so many. I can see it now as the Egyptian still plays a cameo part within the squad.

Rating 3/5

Josh Onomah - Loan

I was never really blown away by Onomah and was actually glad that we couldn't sign him on a permanent deal at the time. He showed moments of brilliance but that was it for me, he never really lived up to the hype or potential. Onomah will probably always be remembered by Villa fans when Tottenham tried to take Jack Grealish for pennies with Onomah being part of the deal. Now plays for Fulham.

Rating: 2/5

Lewis Grabban - Loan

Another of those loans that I can't imagine were cheap at the time. Grabban did well in his short spell with Villa and like others already mentioned, I think Villa fans would have been happy had he signed. In hindsight, I am glad we didn't because he seems to be a player who impresses initially before fading once comfortable. Now plays for Nottingham Forest.

Rating: 3/5

Axel Tuanzebe - Loan

A solid deal all around. His young age probably meant it wasnt too expensive for Villa and the Manchester United defender quickly became a popular figure by Villa supporters. So many still talk about trying to bring him back to Villa Park as United used him sporadically.

Rating: 4/5

Orjan Nyland - £2.70M

Nyland is a weird one because on the face of it he wasn't actually that good but will always be remembered for his heroics against Leicester in the League Cup - Post Bruce. He was your typical goalkeeper who was a good shot stopper but thats where it ended.  The Norwegian is currently without a club.

Rating: 2/5

Andre Moreira - Loan

A strange signing back then and even more so now. I think he played 1-2 games and looked dodgy from the off. He is now at Belenenses SAD as he continues his journey man career.

Rating: 0/5

Yannick Bolasie - Loan

Another of those expensive loan deals. He seemed a great character and still does on his social media platforms but his big injury at Everton seemed to take away what he was able to produce at Crystal Palace. Did Ok when required at Villa but hardly set the world alight. Highlight was probably his chant with Albert Adomah.

Rating: 2/5

Anwar El Ghazi - Loan

El Ghazi's loan deal was made permanant when Bruce departed and helped Villa back to the Premier League with the winning goal in the playoff final. If I wrote this back in October, i probably would have said he was an OK signing who did at the time but Villa have moved on. But Im not writing this in October, I am writing it now and following his form since his return to the first team in late November, he looks a player who has found his love for the game again. Verdict: TBC!

Rating: 3/5 (so far)

Tammy Abraham - Loan

Another expensive loan deal but one that was well worth it. Villa would not have got promoted without his goals and like others, a player fans would have love to see sign on a permanent deal. Back at Chelsea at the moment.

Rating: 4/5

John McGinn - £2.79M

Save the best to last. Who doesnt love him? Villa fans don't say too many nice things about Steve Bruce but if there were to be thankful for something, it would be the signing of 'Meatball' or Sir John McGinn. What a player!

Rating: 5/5


"Winning isn't everything, but it beats anything that comes in second." - Paul Bryant

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