Dwayne Casey. Ring any bells? It’s a name that Steve Bruce should lie awake at night thinking about. Yup, Dwayne Casey, the ex-coach of the Toronto Raptors of the NBA. The winningest coach Toronto has ever had. Coached the team for seven years. Loved by his players, fans, and admired by his peers. A truly great guy. Named the NBA all-star coach in 2018, named coach of the year for 2018 and then, three days later he was canned. Why? The administration wanted to go in another direction. To find someone who could get them past the first round of the playoffs.

Apparently being the best, most liked, and admired doesn’t guarantee a coaching job in the sports world and Steve Bruce should take notice. His job is truly in jeopardy in my opinion.

Bruce’s CV isn’t bad. The players took to him, he had a not-too-bad record in the Championship this year. He has four—count them—four promotions in his career, and then this year he tanked in the ultimate game. A game-changer for me. His entire career culminating in one game and it slipped away. Reason enough to thank him for his efforts and hand him his box of personal items from his office.

Over the last few years Villa haven’t given coaches much of a chance to succeed. McLeish and Lambert, loathed by most, were given bottle caps to build a team. Garde was frozen out completely. Sherwood had some success and a trip to the FA cup final but was never given the time or resources to put a team together the following year. Bruce was given a mandate and almost two seasons to return the team to the Premier League. With no leeway on the remit, failure was always the elephant in the room. No wrong moves allowed. A narrow road no one would be happy to travel. Lots of money was spent to make it happen. And it didn’t happen, and as sure as death and taxes—failure.

Now here we are two years done in trying to escape the Championship and there is some definite hand-wringing going on down Trinity Road. It’s so bad that the idea of selling Bodymoor Heath has come up. I thought Wyness and Round had it sussed regardless of where Villa ended up, and now all the wheels have come off? Back to bottle caps by the sound of it.

Let’s go back a bit and think of Di Matteo. He was gone before he even got his feet wet. How do you think he would have done if he was given two full seasons to put Villa back together again? I’m guessing no worse than Steve Bruce. I would like to think that the U23s would have been given more of a chance instead of the mad spending by Bruce. I would also like to think Di Matteo would have had a little more going for him in the tactics department. Less freezing out of some players who had made a difference in the past.

Sure, Bruce brought in Terry on a free and “got” Jack going like a well-oiled machine. But why couldn’t he do the same for Hogan, DeLaet, Gardner, McCormick, Bree, Elphick, and Richards? I think there would have been more upside with Di Matteo than what Bruce delivered.

Perhaps now a proper building of the team will take place. A foundation put in place and perhaps the league pension information department can vacate the Villa offices. Build from the bottom and keep expectations reasonable. Bring in a manager who can relate.

Lampard is in talks with Derby. Beat them to the punch and maybe Lampard and Terry can manage the team. Why not? Both are competitors who play to win come hell or high water. Both have talent to spare. Both are regarded highly. Both want to manage. No one can say it’s a can’t-miss, but my God, 2018-19 would be an exciting year. And really isn’t that what it’s supposed to be all about?

Comments 201

  1. Ian,

    Good article – about the coaching side of it.

    But it’s not been all about coaching, has it? The club was in bad shape. Di Matteo did not know how to handle the dressing-room – result? Out, and rightly so as the dressing room is the manager’s province.

    If the conditions had been right at VP di Matteo might have done the job, but they weren’t, and the situation at VP seems to have discovered Allilles’ Heel.

    And to blame Bruce for losing the final when Villa had about 5 reasonable chances thrown aside by puff-powder shooting and heading is a bit OTT.

    I really don’t know why I’m getting involved in this. It’s always the manager’s fault I suppose, even when it isn’t.

  2. JL,

    It is virtually always the manager or coach’s head that rolls. Often unfairly, but they do realize it’s the way things work.

    I’d been working on some thoughts as well, and sadly, I also think it’s time for a change. Not because Bruce is a bad guy, or because he hasn’t done a lot for the club. He has.

    But I think that if we’re basically starting from scratch, we need someone with a more progressive vision who’s experienced with developing youth, incorporating young newcomers, etc., and buying for value into a system. Just seems like it’s time to do what we’ve put off doing, for right or wrong.

    Obviously, a lot of cost-cutting has to happen, and I just don’t see Bruce as the man to do the rebuild under the parameters. Or that he would deliver the kind of football Villa need to embrace.

  3. JC,

    Yes – we’re always told that the manager is held responsible. I’ve known that since Eric Houghton was callously kicked out in ’58 when he was about to sign Dave MacKay!

    But that’s not to say that we – the fans – should necessarily hold him responsible. There’s a huge amount of good work that’s been done since he arrived. There have, however, some decision foibles surrounding his role in what goes on the pitch, but Villa were a hair’s-breadth away from the ticket but didn’t because the strikers couldn’t strike!

    As to a new manager… I shall call it what it is and say “bunkum!” You guys want constant change when what we really need is a manager (the existing manager) in the job for at least 2+ years to work with the management team that is there at VP to develop anew.

    Who’s out there that’s so good that he can do better than Bruce? And one that the Doc can afford?

  4. And who’s to say what football “we need to embrace”?

    What’s wanted primarily is points, not pretty football, but aside from which I’d say that since several young players will settle into the team this coming season the club will – in fact – develop a better footballing strategy.

    In my view Bruce will remain to essentially lend his experience and to pick the team in conjunction with others.

  5. The manager does always have to shoulder a high proportion of the responsibility for the season’s outcome and on that basis I believe we should retain Steve Bruce because he has taken us to within a whisker of promotion.

    It’s all too easy to forget where we have come from and how deep was the malaise when Steve Bruce took over.

    Di Matteo’s performance only goes to emphasise how poisoned was the chalice that Bruce took over. A manager who had gained genuine success with other clubs, Steve Bruce’s predecessor was statistically the worst performing Villa manager with 10 or more games under his belt.

    I know that goes against the grain in this blog but, although it may surprise many who read this blog, that view is actually in tune with the majority of Villa fans.

  6. JL,

    Don’t want constant change. Would be happy with a 20-year tenure like Arsene’s. But…we’ve largely selected for very short-term reasons in recent years. And Bruce was indeed given a short-term remit.

    Yes, we were close. We might very well have gone through. And the side, as it was on the final day, would likely have struggled in the PL. But we’d have been up and not been in a financial mess, which we’ve been talking about for a while now, and perhaps could’ve sorted it out well enough to stay up.

    As to other managers? Who we can get is the question. There are plenty out there every bit as good.

    As to who’s to say what sort of football we should embrace? I say what I think. And what I think is that this isn’t the kind of football that’s the present. Or the future. From what I’ve been seeing, a pretty large majority agree, and have been calling for it for years.

    But we’ve been in some sort of mess for a while and have never been able to bite the bullet and do something besides makeshift budget makeovers. O’Neill spent big, mismatched parts, trouble ensued. Di Matteo and Bruce spent big, mismatched parts, and now we’re in trouble again.

    Bruce may well stay. I have no idea. If he does, I hope he’ll succeed.

    But based on what I’ve seen in the last 1.5 seasons, I don’t think he’s the man to rebuild us from the ground up, no matter who else might be involved.

  7. Ha…r0bb0,

    Pretty much the opposite impression I’ve been getting doing the rounds (Bruce staying). But, we’ll see what Xia thinks soon enough.

  8. Thanks Ian- I do wonder whether Bruce would of turned the dressing room around without a whole array of big names in there? does that mean he wasn’t as liked or in control as made out? who knows. Not many teams I can recall did it this way, usually you sack the trouble makers off, SB embraced them, except the one that turned out ok at scoring in Oz.

    On RDM, Maybe he could have had a chat with Terry he’s was his manager once? I do think he would of solved our late losing problem eventually though or we would of scored more. Maybe if he had the Jack grealish of this season or maybe Kodjia had converted the umpteen chances he had or we had stopped hitting the woodwork? 8 times in 11 matches is that a record? when we lost to PNE and sacked him how were we to know they were actually quite good, still we showed them under Bruce Drawing twice at Villa park and beating them 2-0 at their place with 6 of their defenders out.

    I wonder whether Bruce would of survived similar results so close to a relegation and season start? or anyone for that matter? hang on he did this season! Difference was the Ground was a very toxic place back then very used to having a good Boo at the team.

    Bruce also had and probably still has the stability clause on his side even though he came close twice this season to the push (a fairly standard occurrence in his career but occasionally followed by promotion or cup final loss or sack or relegation then promotion ) still we fought back from getting to second to finish a creditable 4th well done! and he won manager of the month in Jan when his mate Agnew turned up to show him where the oppositions goals were, stop stuff.

    You got to laugh else you’d cry 🙂

    Wonder if we will find a manager that can take us up before he becomes a manager that took someone else up? theres three every season you Know.

    Apologies in advance I’m tired 😉

  9. And thinking about missed opportunities in the final, generally the first thing I look to when players don’t produce what you expect them to (in a big game) is pressure.

    That said, Grealish’s dribble and shot was deflected to the keeper. Dunno where it’d have gone otherwise.

  10. JC. A friend pointed out to me that the Birmingham Mail article I posted included a poll and when I checked today it had over 5,000 votes with 61% picking Steve Bruce to continue. . . . a bigger sample size than this blog I’d suggest.

    Despite what I said in my last posting, I DO understand the desire to try a new approach. A new manager would have a better chance of making those changes work ‘because’ of the work Steve Bruce has done.

    If we found a manager who could build on the success of the u23 team and create a new but also, winning, style for Villa then there’s a good part of me that (despite what I said earlier) would be excited by that.

    Am I hedging my bets?

    Yeah, probably. 🙂

  11. Thanks for the comments guys.
    JL close and hitting the woodwork only counts with hand grenades and horseshoes. And talking of horseshoes, Villa ran out.
    I agree that a manager should be in place for a good period of time the only thing for me is it’s not Bruce. Bruce will never grow past his current level of expertise and teams figure that out pretty quickly. To me he’s a one trick pony, mind you it’s a successful one so far. Slavic sorted him out in a hurry and then told him what he was going to do and Bruce still couldn’t sort out a different path.

    JL Bruce hasn’t be any chance caught you in bed with the neighbours missus has he? You’re his most positive poster.

  12. Mark,
    If I’d voted I’d have voted ‘yes’
    At least I have 61 in a hundred other ‘idiotic Villa fans for company.

    You can enjoy the company of the 39% of ‘know alls’

  13. r0bb0,

    Wasn’t going off opinion here—I don’t usually bother checking in with other blogs and opinion that often, just don’t have the time—but after the final thought it was a good time to get a sense of what was being said.

    I do agree that Bruce has done a lot for the club, and is to be thanked and appreciated. I like the guy. These moments are always hard. Just comes down to thinking, like Ian says, that he’s at his limit in terms of tactics, set-up, adaptability, etc.

    To JL’s point about points, it is very true that points are all that matter. My feeling is that there are other approaches that give Villa greater opportunities for long-term success gaining points against a variety of opponents, especially if we move up a class, and in terms of the types of players and managers we appeal to.

    We (generally) bemoan a lack of creativity, the inability to break teams down, etc., and I’d like to do something about it. Also would like to do something about the predictability of our play.

  14. Good stuff Ian.
    SB has done quite well for us and I am grateful for his efforts.What held him and the club back was SB himself.We went to places like Norwich and Bristol with one man up front,hoping to win by hanging on and nicking a goal.When we concede his answer was to throw on forwards rather than change how we played,not because he is stupid,but because he doesn’t know how to change tactics and formations mid game.He displayed poor game management knowledge.This doesn’t warranrt abuse or sneers or hysteria,which is thankfully absent on AVL.It simply illustrates that after a season and a half he isn’t going to suddenly acquire a new approach from thin air.He sets up and plays in a certain way,it has worked for him before,it didn’t work this timw.He knows this.We weren’t good enough over 46 games,and weren’t good enough in the mini tournament at the end.If he stays or leaves I wish him well,but as a Villa fan rather than a SB fan ,I would like new blood,to harness the youth with hopefully new recruits.Let’s see if the new scouting system can bear fruit and that we can pplay winning football that can adapt to the different players teams and circumstances over the next season.I don’t give a jot about entertainment or fluency,that is just the cherry on the top,if that is a by productof winning then I’ll take it.

  15. JIM
    Hillaire Belloc
    There was a boy whose name was Jim
    His friends were very good to him
    They gave him tea and cakes and jam
    And slices of delicious ham
    And chocolate with pink inside
    And little tricycles to ride
    They read him stories through and through
    And even took him to the zoo
    But there it was the awful fate
    Befell him, which I now relate
    You know (at least you ought to know
    For I have often told you so)
    That children never are allowed
    To leave their nurses in a crowd
    Now this was Jim’s especial foible
    He ran away when he was able
    And on this inauspicious day
    He slipped his hand and ran away
    He hadn’t gone a yard when BANG
    With open jaws a lion sprang
    And hungrily began to eat
    The boy, beginning at his feet
    Now just imagine how it feels
    When first your toes and then your heels
    And then by varying degrees
    Your shins and ankles, calves and knees
    Are slowly eaten bit by bit
    No wonder Jim detested it
    No wonder that he shouted “Ai”
    The honest keeper heard his cry
    Though very fat, he almost ran
    To help the little gentleman
    “Ponto,” he ordered as he came
    For Ponto was the lion’s name
    “Ponto,” he said with angry frown
    “Down sir, let go, put it down!”
    The lion made a sudden stop
    He let the dainty morsel drop
    And slunk reluctant to his cage
    Snarling with disappointed rage
    But when he bent him over, Jim
    The honest keeper’s eyes grew dim
    The lion having reached his head
    The miserable boy was dead
    When nurse informed his parents they
    Were more concerned than I can say
    His mother as she dried her eyes
    Said “It gives me no surprise
    He would not do as he was told.”
    His father who was self-controlled
    Bade all the children round attend
    To James’s miserable end.
    And always keep ahold of nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.


  16. reflecting on this season and with my problems with bruce most would expect me to call for his head,,,, and to be fair i would take dean smith with low expectations for a few seasons,,,
    to build with some of the kids and potential,,,
    but sometimes this season we have been ok,,, could we have been better ,,,, yes could bruce have been better,,, yes yes yes,,,, but,,,, there is every chance bruce knows what he needs and who and whats available,, to make the team stronger and able to play less negative and play more effective football,,,,
    villa park is settled with a core of decent players,,,, and if grealish has to go he has to go,,,
    it will be upsetting but 30 million plus de laet tishibola golini richards mccormack hogan gardner gil lansbury elphick gabby terry snoddy onoma axel t whelan bree and johnstone off the books would make us look better financially
    but you would think we could get somewhere near 20 mill on player sales on that lot that we own,,, and hopefully keep grealish,,,,
    but if he does go we could have 50 mill to play with to bring in another center back, a left back
    and a decent forward,,, we need pace at the back and a right sided player,,,
    if bruce is to stay he has to make us better ,, it can be done and stability could be the way forward for next season
    it will kill me to see grealish go,,,,,

  17. RObbO
    Here’s one for you—-
    The little boy stood on the burning deck
    Picking his nose like mad
    Rolled them up in little balls
    And flicked them at his dad

  18. If only that magical Grealish run had finished off in the net…
    Until players like him are protected rather than kicked and ridiculed… What’s the point…?

  19. JC: “As to other managers? Who we can get is the question. There are plenty out there every bit as good.”

    Perhaps – on paper. But none qualified in the lower leagues.

    Actually measuring up to the job needed at Villa? I don’t see one.

  20. Ian: “Bruce hasn’t be any chance caught you in bed with the neighbours missus has he? You’re his most positive poster.”


    Don’t get me wrong – 20 months ago I was not that keen about Bruce.

    But then at that time I didn’t understand about the dressing room issues. That is where Bruce has been a great success.

    And since then (playing-wise) – as Dave Blurton has indicated – it’s bee some good, even very good occasionally. The wins against Norwich, Bristol and Wolves emphatically stick in my mind. Other times – of course – the team badly disappointed.

    By the end of the season we found that the team had peaked too soon (the Wolves match), and there were some overworked legs. Notably Snodgrass.

    Bruce nearly – very nearly – got us there.

    Will he be the perfect choice to continue tactics wise and all? Perhaps not, but I don’t think he’s as far away as people think, and I believe the economic circumstances will drive him to be more creative.

    For a new guy to come in now would be almost like starting over again and we’d probably take another 2 or 3 seasons to get up.

    Let’s just keep the momentum going. It’s always greener on the other side of the fence isn’t it? Until you jump over that fence and land in a paddy field! 😀

  21. BTW, there’s a lot of talk about Bruce and over-defensive play etc.

    But the fact is that we scored 4 or more in 6 games this past season. And that includes good wins over Bristol (then thought promotion candidates) and Wolves. Also another 5 matches scoring 3 goals.

    And the most of that coming after the halfway point in the season after Grealish returned – with vastly improved play.

    Though there were some disappointing matches in-between, that nearly always happens. I remember 1959-60 and 1987-88 containing disappointing matches but both times in those cases we got promotion despite them.

    I would put this season on a par with the disappointment of 1970-71 when we finished 4th in the old 3rd Division despite having players like Rioch in the squad. We won through the following season.

  22. Thanks Ian. Comments from both camps. I will add that I did hear pro Steve Bruce chants at Wembley briefly. So he does have some support. But does he have it where it matters?

    Well maybe. Judging by the lack of announcements from VP it’s looking more like we’ll be keeping him by the hour. The Board must have known what Plan B entailed if we missed promotion because they told us so. It’s now Weds and if SB was going I’m guessing it would have happened by now as time is of the essence.

    I’m guessing SB has been locked in discussions with them about the size of hole that must be filled financially and who he is prepared to lose and not lose. In other words he’s an integral part of the planning. If Wyness and Round get this wrong I think their positions will be untenable. I wonder if their collars are feeling tight.

  23. Hi JL

    Quoting you from above – What’s wanted primarily is points, not pretty football

    Tell that to Wolves fans or Huddersfield fans the previous season for that matter, pretty football for me is about passing, possession and ingenuity. Everything is rushed by Villa, there is no control in games, the approach has always been to concede possession and counter-attack. We need to be more clever in how we approach and win games.

    A leopard doesn’t change its spots and I can’t see Bruce progressing this side tactically or in terms of results if he has less to work with, at what point does mgmt determine that we introduce the Villa way at all levels and who here thinks Bruce’s way is compatible with it or something you’d like to see at youth level. Fulham proved that football has moved on in my opinion, they created the clear cut chance and finished it off, there was nothing clear cut in anything we created. They controlled the game even if it was outside of the law in terms of Grealish.

  24. Darren – Stats On the Matter of Points … and Goals

    This makes interesting reading. In the 21 matches played (inclusive) fro 30/12/17 to 28/4/18 – i.e. excludng the last match, which made no difference, the playing stats were:

    P 21 W 14 D 3 L4 = 45 points. That rate if throughout the season would have got us automatic promotion.

    Goals-wise, we scored 40 (in 21 matches) – as near as damnit to 2 per match.

    I’ve already mentioned this: “the fact is that we scored 4 or more in 6 games this past season. And that includes good wins over Bristol (then thought promotion candidates) and Wolves. Also another 5 matches scoring 3 goals.”

  25. Steve Bruce

    The fact is there are a number on this blog (and other blogs) that will find a reason to want Bruce out no matter what. Unfortunately.

    I can remember clearly that in the days coming up to the home match vs Wolves everyone was saying that Wolves were going to wipe the floor with us. 😀 And this was Villa fans talking!

    The saving grace for the anti-Bruce brigade we disappointed badly in the two matches after Wolves. If that hadn’t happened there would have been a lot of red faces for the rest of the season!

  26. It’s not about Steve Bruce. It’s about promotion. That was the aim. Two seasons have passed under Bruce and Villa will start a third season in the Championship. That was not the plan. Villa failed.
    From that standpoint, Bruce should go.
    He is a good man, who has had a tough year with family and football. He has tried his best and came up a little short. I wish things had turned out differently. However, it is about what is best for AVFC.
    The squad itself will change a lot. We need a manager who can manage and get the new squad to perform well consistently.
    Money will have much to say. Villa have just lost a lot.

  27. Trinity,

    Please stop altering the facts!

    It’s *not* been two seasons under Bruce. It’s effectively been just the one season – the previous one was a mess when he took over.

    Anyhow, I must keep to my word and go back into three-quarters-retired mode! Adieu. 🙂

  28. On the SB issue, he has to stay. Losing Kodger and Jack were pivotal to preparations last summer. Season 16-17 Kodger scored 19 in a very much transitional side, and scored consistanly. We didnt really have that this last season. Get him fit and firing, who knows. Hourerhane, Adomah, Elmohamady, Chester, Jedinek if hes still got the legs, Bjarnason in front the back four, Jack if he stays, maybe we have enough. Me, I think so.
    Dean Smith……JL remember Tommy Cummings…yeh, thats what I think.
    If we sack SB and get Sean Dyche ……blue sky thinking…

  29. Jl after the wolves match Bruce declared that he should of rested some players after such an emotional tough match. He didn’t and quite frankly it nearly buggered the season up totally. That’s Bruce mr after the fact we need mr think ahead.

  30. JL,

    Managers are paid to manage, and if you fail in your remit, you are the only person to blame, whether it is football, a major company or a government minister. If there is failure, you must take the wrap.

    I do feel that Bruce has had sufficient time at Villa to prove himself capable of winning promotion, and it will be sad to see him go. I DO NOT WANT a knee jerk reaction of sacking him, and bringing in another also ran manager. It has to be someone capable of taking Villa on for the next five years, otherwise we may as well keep Bruce, and remain a good Championship side, which is where I see us with his level of competence.

    A great leader Ian, and many good comments from others.

    The silence from Villa Park is deafening, which to me spells the end of Bruce, otherwise Dr Tony would have shown his support for him by now, and congratulated him on a near miss, but the Chinese do not do near misses.

  31. The buck ultimately stops at Bruce but you have to wonder about the people around him. Assistant coaches and the more experienced players on the team. Don’t they
    have any input to how a game is going or how they feel? To be able to say maybe not this or that or do they just go with Bruce’s thoughts.

  32. What most people are somehow apparently forgetting about, is that it won’t be the same team [in some cases not so bad], & we don’t even know how drastic the surgery will have to be.
    Half the players could go after we discover how many we have to sell, & we still haven’t got the Villa way through to the first team.
    The rebuilding job could be too much for Bruce.
    But as we haven’t got a picture yet, I think many are being a little cavalier with the club in their opinions.
    Much wishful thinking it seems to me.

  33. Ian
    As far as input from the staff is concerned, it may improve with a steady personnel & the villa way of playing sorted.
    But Maybe Bruce not the one for that if the cut is too severe

  34. The wages that some of the players carry pretty much spells their move on situation. Is it possible for players Villa want to keep to be put on a deferred payment plan when financial clouds blow away?

  35. Ian
    You’d hope that they would feel some loyalty, enough to carry through a little, especially the younger ones.
    But it is not very fashionable these days unfortunately.
    I think we need to broach these elements to further the togetherness that has been built.
    If it started with the management it might work, & have a powerful effect.

  36. PP
    I would say the silence coming out of VP is due to the fact that their all including SB on a beach somewhere in Europe or beyond. And will be for a couple of weeks.
    I wouldnt disagree with anyone on this site regarding the style of football we play, but I do think we need to stick with him. He’s (SB) beat the promoted sides at home and lost away that tells me he is capable of a top two finish. Our early season form cost us I believe.
    And I would say the last manager to play attacking aggressive football was Brian Little 25 years ago, and we all hated him, well I didn’t, but there you go.

  37. Olof Mellberg is available but in talks with Swedish club Malmö FF. How about snatching him up in front of their eyes. No question what so ever what club he would choose. He is a young up and coming manager, Villa legend, loves Villa, proper professional. First managerial job he led Brommapojkarna up to highest swedish league in two consecutive promotion season. Equal to from League 1 to Premier League in two seasons. I would love him as a Villa manager for a long, long time. The Arsene way!! Much better than Gerrard or Terry whos hears are really with other clubs. Omof has already shown he can do it, give hin a crack at it!!

  38. Interesting sort of non-statement statement from Xia.

    Apparently he wants to recover emotionally before reaching decisions. Much thanks and appreciation to Bruce. Changes are necessary, “no matter what the changes will be.”

    So, whether or not there was a plan in place if we didn’t go up…? You’d have thought. Maybe he’s having a re-think.

  39. V29
    Bit like Ole Gunnar Scholscair then, love the bloke as you say Villa legend, but not convinced he’d hack it in this league.
    Good call though

  40. Hello, Villa29.

    I can’t say I’m terribly familiar with the challenges posed by the Swedish league, but Olaf has been successful, no doubt.

    I’m guessing Xia would go with a slightly more established manager who’s been working either in England or on the continent if he does make a change

  41. Archie, perhaps not yet, but Malmö FF is Swedens biggest team (ok people will disagree). They played in the Champions League group stage both 2014 and 2015. Slavisa Jokanovic managed Tel Aviv before Fulham… David Wagner… Just saying 🙂 With Olof you get someone who knows and loves the club and has played himself on the biggest stage. If we need a legend, leader, captain I would go for Olof before John 😉

  42. John, sure Swedish league is not English level. But it is for sure a big achievement to have two consecutive promotions upnti the highest league. Do not know history for sure here but would think that this is quite unusual…

  43. Villa29,

    Two consecutive promotions can’t be easy anywhere…and I wouldn’t disagree that having already managed and done so successfully that Olaf wouldn’t be more qualified than Terry.

    Like I say, no real idea what Xia will be thinking, just speculation on my end.

  44. “Please stop altering the facts!”
    There is no altering of facts. Two seasons have indeed “passed” with Steve Bruce in charge at the end of both, but we don’t need to get into semantics, do we?
    I hope you’re enjoying your semi-retirement. I miss your historical insight.

    Thanks for the neat article, Ian.

  45. I have to say what pisses me off most is the amount of money we spent getting nowhere, even promotion would of meant a whole new team in my opinion, wonder what a more astute manager could of assembled for the money waisted? Huddersfield were assembled for the price of JTs wages last season. We could be set up now for a proper tilt at the title and the prem with a real team, not waiving one goodbye again.

    One of steve bruces things appears to be he likes British players which unfortunately is probably the most expensive way to go. I’m hoping we have cast our net wider this time.

  46. Mark
    Hope we still have a net to cast as now we haven’t got a pot to p*ss in.
    I agree with that Bruce has expensive British habit, but it may be fortunate that others in the Villa back room who would survive Bruce going, are younger & are not stuck with the ready fix habit to that degree.

  47. John Terry

    I would like to say a HUGE thanks to JT for his efforts at VP this season. He has helped rectify a broken dressing room and helped team members understand the correct way of conducting matters. We will miss him.

  48. no point the doc blaming lerner for last 2 years,his first appointment of rdm followed by bruce 2 major mistakes ,likewise giving wynes a major role at club,the doc needs to get much better advisers

  49. wonder what the doc thinks now .sold baker to fund terry and samba wage for a year,year later we now have none of them along with bruce alienating elphik
    how can bruce say terry was worth 3m for 1 year in this league,its not like bruce and aissants are new to job

  50. Trinity: “I hope you’re enjoying your semi-retirement. I miss your historical insight.”

    But don’t like my argumentative nature, eh?! 😀

    Though I understand the manager is usually the fall-guy, I cannot understand why in this situation we should expect that rule to apply.

    Yes, One/two years to get promotion was the chairman’s remit, but the place was a shambles when he took over and he made a wrong appointment in di Matteo to start with. The Doc himself will, I’m sure, recognise his own naiivity in several respects.

    So, really, the first season was not on and the chairman came to see that it was too much of an expectation.

    Then we had the second season when what proved to be the proof that the player most needed – Grealish – did not start a match until December. And it was only in December that we started to garner points and we finished the season achieving more than 2 points per game since December. we were just short. Why? Because our much improved and decent playmaker Jack was out for so long … plus Kodjia. And we had all kinds of problems with the striker position – Gabby, Hogan, Davis. Grabban and (occasionally) Kodjia all playing in that spot, and none with great scoring distinction.

    I’d argue that if Jack and Kodhia were available from day one Wolves would have had trouble keeping that top spot. We smashed ’em at VP as it was.

    Going by the record since December I feel sure in saying that’s what would have happened.

    So – with those misfortunes and having to build the club from scratch – why want Bruce out? Unless you just don’t like him. As I said, the moment you hump over the fence and land in a paddy field you don’t know what’s the other side of the fence.

    And that was exactly the argument I put forward when Ellis gave way to Lerner. I was poo poo-ed then.

    Bruce the perfect choice? Of course not. But he’s here and at least he’s got the club going again.

  51. JL – That statement yesterday from Tony Xia was very downbeat. Almost defeatist. He’s not hung around here and was soon back in Beijing. He also intimated that there will be no more money coming and complying with FFP will make the pips squeak.

    Think we may need to prepare for losing Jack. Perhaps Codger too. Next season is going to be all about the kids. They will struggle for sure so the fans will need to be patient. The 2 year promotion target is history and gone forever. It will now take as long as rebuilding the team is going to take. The fans will take hope from Wagner who did just that with Huddersfield. But I don’t see SB doing a Wagner personally.

    My complaint about SB concerns his Dad’s Army team selections and defensive set ups. His supporters point to the amount of goals scored to counter that argument and giving Wolves 4 and Bristol City 5 as counters to the Dad’s Army argument. It seems he will be staying so we will find out in due course whether he has the ability to build a competitive team from the kids with grains of rice as financial support. Derby are in the same boat and Rowett didn’t fancy it.

  52. Plug,

    Yes I’ve read the Doc’s statement. Well, we’ll know in due course what the fall-out is. He was certainly not eager to criticise his manager, was he? But we’ll see.

    I agree with your comments, but the fact is that the Doc wanted promotion pdq and Bruce did what he did as he was trying to obey his boss’s wishes i.m.o.

    Yes, maybe that’s the formula he used before, but it came close to success in terms of promotion.

    I do agree that if we had got promotion then what would have happened next … which is why I said earlier this may be a blessing in disguise.

    We’ll know more as the summer proceeds.

  53. To me, Dr Tony’s statement is very clear.

    The two pieces from 7500 to Holte are very enlightening regarding the statement, and the position on FFP.

    The statement makes it very clear that the result and money spent were a failure, and that there will be changes at VP, including the replacement of Steve Bruce. The thanks to him and his team, are the normal pattern, before you replace someone. There will be no rush, as he knows that he cannot afford another managerial mistake. He will be looking for a proven man that can go the distance from Championship to Champions league, and the right pay and incentive is more crucial than any player’s wages.

    I see no point in sacking Bruce, unless he is replaced by a top class manager, there is no other way forward, and I am sure Tony Xia still sees Aston Villa becoming a world-wide brand, and football is still comparatively a cheap way of doing it, given the right tools, as the Monsoor Bros have proved, using football to make Qatar Airways a huge world-wide brand to compete with Emirates.

    Will Terry and Lampard become the new Clough and Taylor at Derby County…???


    I understand your sentiments, but alas they will not win future matches….history is only a recording of events. The magic of management is making the events worth recording in history.

    Warriors are only remembered for their triumphs, not their defeats. I do not see any successful books on sale recording the losers of Cup Finals, etc…

  54. Is Bruce on a rolling contract? I assume we don’t have to pay him a big package if he is asked to leave.

    Having said that, he will probably join Stoke and lead them to promotion, the usual Villa bounce for anyone who leaves us.

  55. Paul: “…including the replacement of Steve Bruce.”

    Eh? Where does it say or even intimate that, Paul?

    It could be the case, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  56. Villalore,

    Precisely … that’s Partly why I can’t see Bruce going. He and the coaches would probably have to in that case and I don’t see the Doc wanting to deal with compensation sums that will surely be involved.

  57. Sack SB…Compo, Recruit Dean Smith…more compo, don’t see it happening.
    Sack SB …Compo, Recruit out of work manager, maybe.
    Moyes, Alerdyce, Mad Mick, Lambert, Steve Cotterell, and of course there’s Andrea Stramaccioni.
    Be careful what you wish for.
    Stick with SB, we’ll smash it next season

  58. Steve Bruce is on a rolling contract with no compo, and surely as night follows day, Terry, Snodgrass, Grabban, Johnstone, Onomah and Tuanzebe all returned to their clubs, no longer needed, he will be the same, and a new era will evolve.

    Zinedine Zidane is the sort of level where the Doc will be looking, rather than the Allardyces or the Moyes, while Bruce could well become a Stoke man.

    I do not see Xia appointing anyone of the Bruce, de Matteo, or similar ilk, and personally, I would not want him to. If that is the only level we are going to operate at, then Bruce may as well stay.

    It seems that Terry is very gutted at failing to win, and basically being sacked by Villa, as there is just a thank you and goodbye from the chairman.

    Some fans are saying we missed out on Lampard and Terry, but I do not think that the board would risk anyone untried at this stage.


    I understand the language used by management and board of directors, having received and given the death kiss….

  59. Paul I thought Gary Rowatt had gone to Stoke, Zidane….you might as well say Pep we got about as much chance, about the same chance as getting Herbert Chapman.

  60. Paul,

    Indeed…we know the management speak. Guess we’ll soon see, but agree the Doc is not going to rush things.

    That said, I once again would’ve thought there’d be a list drawn up already.

    And if Jack does go, we really do have our work cut out. I will be seriously angry if we still are paying McCormack, et al, and can’t keep Jack. Assuming he’d stay, of course.

    If he goes, I’ll wish him all the best. Will still be gutting to watch him playing for someone else, but I hope he does reach his potential wherever he ends up.

  61. With Terry, likewise, I thought there was an understanding that it was a one-season deal if we didn’t go up. Sounds like maybe a conversation was expected anyway?

  62. Paul,

    You (and JC) I think are reading into it what you want to read.

    Yes, I am sure that the chairman will weigh up that particular option, but it cert6ainly doesn’t mean it’s a done thing.

    Mand you, if the chairman does make the decision to sack Bruce then I can’t see Villa getting back on its feet soon – leastwise not getting into the Champions League within the next 3 years (5-2) … and more likely – if it happens – 5 years after that.

  63. I don’t think anyone’s immune from wishful thinking on here.
    I’m just waiting for the official announcement.

    I too would be angry if they sold Grealish with Mcmac & others still here wasting our resources.
    I also hope Codger gets fit & works out how to pay within whatever team we end up with, [unless he’s sold instead of Grealish of course]

  64. jc
    more annoyed by the fact ross scored goals for fun before villa ,and for all chat about bruce s man
    mangement skills i see more unhappy villa players than ever before
    rdm signed 9 players chester jedi albert and kodja all played their part ,delaet unfortunate with injuries and then bruces love of signing rb,other 4 turned out costly mistakes but compared to bruce turn over of players not at all bad

  65. IanG,

    Dunno if Kodjia will ever be quite the same. Obviously don’t know just how/where his ankle was broken, but there may well be a permanent loss of mobility in it, constant pain, etc.

    Our Ian knows all about broken ankles.

    I’d probably sell him if anyone’s interested. But we probably wouldn’t get enough to make a real difference.

  66. IanG: “I don’t think anyone’s immune from wishful thinking on here.”

    Financially (let alone other considerations), getting rid of SB just does not stack up taking into account the usual need for the coaches to go as well.

    The Doc is in a corner financially. He’s gone back to Beijing clearly to look at the matter from a distance, and when he thinks about all the financial implications he must surely realise that he has to keep the status quo.

    If it wasn’t the FFP and all he might let SB go. He still might, but to replace with whom?

  67. JL,

    Not reading anything into it. The Doc says he’s gutted, a complete re-think is in order, has nice words for Bruce without committing to him.

    What I do know, as you do as well, is that the dreaded vote of confidence very often precedes a sacking. His praise, and gratitude, could well be valedictory—or an actual vote of confidence. Like Paul, I’ve delivered the speech.

    So…He may well keep Bruce. He hasn’t made that commitment specific or public yet, so we’ll see what happens.

  68. JG,

    With RMC, back to the buying players without seemingly thinking about the team and set-up in which they were successful.

    Bjarnason certainly wasn’t happy about being left out of the final, and I can’t blame him. Apart from injury, he should’ve been automatic all down the stretch. Like I said, I’ll give Bruce credit for playing Jedi against Boro. But the Fulham match called for more energy and pace in midfield, not less.

  69. JL,

    If keeping Bruce comes down to finances rather than a footballing decision…Not the best way to approach things.

    As you say, may well be a necessity. And of course, it was the Doc who backed himself into the corner.

  70. JL,

    You quote the piece from a fan on MOMS, but omit to mention the very good one on Tony Xia’s statement!

    Xia and his board’s short-termism in their approach to win promotion – spending big on wages for experience and overpaying to get some of the supposed better Championship talents – perhaps was a warranted approach. It seemed a logical way to go, considering the club needed to get back to the top tier asap.
    The problem was though, there was some sloppiness in the execution. First of all, hiring a manager in Roberto Di Matteo, who had never completed a second season as manager with any club. There also seemed to be an attitude of stockpiling of players without much thought to systems and how players would play in them – Ross McCormack and Scott Hogan would be expensive examples of that.
    Business Failure
    The main feeling Xia will have is one of failure as a business man, as he alludes to in the statement below. He tries to mitigate his own regime’s failings in the statement by passing some of the blame to Randy Lerner, by his reference to the last ten years. The reality is though, he’s made the exact same mistake chasing promotion, as Lerner did initially chasing Champions League football.
    You can blame the past or you can get on with dealing with the now and future. Some supporters cite, when defending Xia, the Villa board or Bruce, the notion that ‘A least we haven’t done a Sunderland’. The irony is Sunderland also provided the best example, of not wallowing on what has gone on before. In the 2005/06 season they finished on a then record low 15 points, afterwards new owners followed and they had a change of management after the following season had commenced (from Niall Quinn to Roy Keane), but the Mackems still managed to win the Championship title at the first time of asking.
    Xia talks in his statement about change – “I believe that only changes can help the club to progress towards the positive direction” – but at this stage, doesn’t allude to what he actually means. Is it a change of manager? Or more likely, a time for a period of austerity? We obviously know they’ll be a change of team, with five of the XI that started at Wembley out of a Villa contract soon.
    Xia, has been learning on the job, and for someone whose main business concerns are urban intelligence and the like, he’ll know that Villa will have to become smarter as a football club and waste less resources.
    He’d have certainly have learnt after the play-off final defeat, there are no guarantees and the failures of Leeds, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and the like, are not such distant concepts.
    The Villa owner will know that those he employs have played the percentages up until now, whether by getting in old pros or playing tactically cautiously on the pitch.
    While the below statement is thin on details, it certainly hints that from now, they’ll be a different approach.

    It then follows with a copy of the statement.

  71. JC,

    On the decision based on pure finances … I have the opinion that Bruce is OK actually (you and others differ of course) and is not at all easily replaceable. If the chairman has the same view then it’s not just for financial reasons although they clearly must pay a big part.

    On the previous matter about ‘kiss of death’ messages, that’s generally along the lines of a chairman saying “the manager has my support” and then goes and fires him. In this case the Doc has not said any such thing – we are all just speculating.

  72. Paul,

    I had no need to provide that link. I basically overlooked it, but so what?

    That preliminary article you provide is as much a critique of the chairman as anyone, so what it has to do with the discussion at hand I fail to see. There is no extra clarity in that article as far as I am concerned, Paul.

  73. Well my gut tells me that apart from the fact that I’m hungry, changes are a-coming.
    Apart from Xia telling the board to go in a different direction [that they may or not be equipped for] & restrict the manager, which may or not be his forte, & which he may not agree to or stay for, there is only personnel changes to go with the above.
    Other than that there are financial funding changes & increase of sponsorship, & backroom changes.
    He will also know that upsetting the boat too much can be catastrophic.
    The player turnover would have happened anyway & will be already structured, with the possible addition of selling players we didn’t wish to.

    So the changes should be interesting, especially as currently there seem only to be fines to pay for accidentally breaking the financial rules, which he could afford, to get us up.

  74. It appears a lot of you have been invading my mind while I’m asleep. Vote of confidence, kiss of death whatever you call it, Xia didn’t paint a good picture for Bruce. If he was on a rolling contract he had it in the back of his mind all along that Bruce just might not be that guy.
    Football has become a business in the strictest sense. Style of play matters nothing to the bean counters. The only goal is the premier league and all the managers and players are nothing but pawns in this environment. Using football to further a business empire is the number one objective for a lot of teams. Hell, Xia has practically come out and said it.
    Bruce is the type of guy who goes into a fancy French restaurant and orders the most expensive item. Then eats only the things he recognizes. That’s why Villa have an abundance of talented players sitting on the sidelines. McCormack for instance , goals for fun except Villa or landsbury with the briefest rays of quality. If Bruce doesn’t like what he sees why on earth did he buy them in the first place.
    Kodjia, IMO, like John mentioned could have issues with that ankle. Regardless, Villa should sell him and not wait until later to find out. Same reason you sell your car which looks shiny but is about to run like shit. As far a jack goes, if you keep him you better build around him or he will look like that piece of squid on Bruce’s plate in no time. Sell him and you have a good chance of recruiting two or three players who can help more than one outstanding player with no support.
    As far as Bruce goes for me, if you keep him we will have a fair run and then grab thin air again—he has no finish to his game. Wolves and Bristol were one offs don’t kid yourself, he’s probably wondering why still.
    If you let him go then you have an opportunity to make the next step forward.
    As far as a toxic dressing room goes, what’s with that? Did Richard Dunn leave a message etched into the wall on how to act? Plenty of players had come and gone to remove that atmosphere. Terry and a number of other experienced players developed a cohesive team. A one for all, all for one type of thing but that didn’t mean they should have played every game bar Chester. Lots of games where youth could have been brought in. Lots of chances where different tactics could have been tried. All we got was would you like gravy or ketchup with your chips.
    Xia pulled a Lerner and he should have known better. I’m guessing he’s a smart man but the heady feeling of owning a football team of Villas pedigree did him in. Kind of like watching a buddy movie except it didn’t work out. Money doesn’t cure everything and everyone want to thump someone with a high opinion of themselves.

  75. Ian
    Yes the key word is opportunity.
    Doing the same thing again, apart from it not working & being insane, would not be much of an opportunity.
    For change you have to create or tune in to movement.
    It doesn’t happen in a static environment as we’ve already experienced in the past.
    Yes Lansbury & Codger we could get some money for, although if we had a new manager we may get some value out of McMac, as we don’t seem to be able to sell him.
    But sell any of them too cheap & the resale value off the books will up the financial imbalance, meaning we could just be giving them away.
    It’s people like Richards which bug me, as his wage could buy & pay a half decent player.

  76. Richards bugs me too as did lescott. Not because they failed to perform but because Villa gave them a kings ransom to show up at Villa Park which literally hamstrung them financially. And with the game so money driven, what would any of us do? A contract to our retirement date at great pay or take it on the chin for the good of the club? They did the same with Gabby.

  77. john lerwil
    if bruce had been any good as a manager surely hewould managed longer at at least one of his clubs like moyes at everton big sam at bolton,go on any site of his former clubs and none of them to complementary about bruce

  78. JL,

    Of course it’s speculation…That’s what open-ended/non-committal statements provoke. Everyone’s trying to parse that little gem.

    You see nothing in it, I get that. You don’t want to speculate, get that too. Others will speculate. If it turns out to be a waste of time? No big loss.

    What I do find interesting is that if there were distinct plans, what has thrown them in disarray? The finances were known intimately before the match, as were, presumably, the alternate paths dictated by the outcome.

    So, what I read into it is that Xia is having just about the same conversation (with himself and others, I assume) we’re having on here. We came very close. Do I stick or twist?

  79. Hi folks at least its livened the blog up if nothing else,

    Can we stop the “if we had Grealish and Kodjia ” stuff? its desperate, who bases their season on a long term injured player who may or may not be the same? the answer appears to be Bruce because he hadn’t got a clue what to do with RMC and Hogan. We couldn’t score for toffee pre-season (the forwards) and that continued. Bruce likes Kodjia, Why? because you feed him the ball enough in space and he will get you goals eventually, take look at last season and you will see the number 1 (goal) next to our name a lot usually Kodjia, how did we play? we gave him the ball exclusively. This season with so many talents in the said this didn’t really happen when he played, he went from star man to also on the pitch, others players stepped up, we played in a different manner anyway we plodded and hoofed a lot and crossed a lot, Kodjia needs the ball to feet and a defence to run at we did neither very quickly. To me we didn’t really feed the “Forward” this season at all no matter who it was. Davis was used as glue so we could get up the pitch until Grealish came back looking like a different Player.

    That brings me to Grealish, Last season floppy haired lightweight that wound the refs up, moaned, fell over, or at least thats how some saw him. This season he’s the saviour 🙂 came back late to pre-season (England u21 duty) looking like the same lightweight but skilful player. Gets told to bulk up by Bruce and he starts to use the gym ( I didn’t think I needed it in jacks own words) part of this was to cure his constant hamstring tweaks from recent seasons. Anyway he gets injured and gets the golden ticket to strengthsville, 4 months of gym work and he came back with a neck, got stuck in , was quicker, was harder to push around and had more stamina. Now that was not the jack of pre-season nor would he have been jack the saviour. You cannot build a large amount of strength while running your guts out, unless you get sufficient rest it will likely be detrimental and cause not prevent injury.

    what people should be saying is I wish jack had gone to the gym before we got relegated and I wish Bruce had known how to get the best out of the rest of the squad other than Kodjia, he spent large parts of the season trying to do just that, thats why he nearly got sacked twice, or have we forgot the twitchy press releases by the management?

  80. Oh and the other thing that came from this season, kids are not the only ones that can’t last a season (sigh), the old buggers can’t either, with all Bruces knowledge and penchant for playing quick counter attacks from a defensive position, why would he build a side with no pace or stamina for that matter to play the games at the rate required? without them dipping
    in form? his favourite saying is “thats the Championship” Its not really is it? its a bunch of over the hill players that can’t keep possession to reserve their energy.

  81. Mark, I tend to agree that without Kodjia, other players were freed up to be more creative and the team benefitted. Albert in particular, rose to the challenge in the first half of the season.
    Having said that, I’d still prefer to have a fit and functioning Kodjia available as he is capable of providing that individual creative spark that every team looks for.

    Your suggestion that Jack only performed so well ‘because’ he was out injured for so long looks rather speculative though. Bruce recognised his talents pre-season and had built his plans around him. He may, as you say, have benefited from extra gym work, but it seems that Bruce would have wanted him to do that even if he hadn’t been injured.

    By all acounts, the injury did however help to focus Jack’s mind on what really matters so maybe he ended up an even better player than he would have been, but You have to believe that we’d have been better with him than without him in the first half of the season.

  82. Ian, your fancy food restaurant analogy doesn’t really hold up for Steve Bruce.

    Xia allowed Di Matteo free reign and spent quite heavily, but unlike Lerner, he learned very fast and after just a quarter of a season he recognised two things: 1) Di Matteo wasn’t going to hack it 2) he had to cut back on spending.

    Right from the start, SB knew he had to operate within a very limited budget.
    In his first transfer window he spent a net £4m and in his second he actually generated £12m in transfer spending.

    So contrary to some myths, Steve Bruce has actually spent minus £8m in transfers in his time with us.

    He may have gone into the fancy restaurant but he was told that he could only have the starter and If he wanted a main course he’d have to go and cook it for himself.

  83. rObbO,
    let me rephrase that. Bruce goes to dinner with a friend who is treating so it costs little.
    Regardless of how much he made selling players he still spent a bunch on new additions.

  84. Ian
    He sold £12m more than he bought.
    He’s not lived the lavish lifestyle.
    In fact you could say that he’s operated under footballing austerity.

    I’ve said lots of times that I am not a huge fan of Bruce. There are managers who have done better than him.

    What I don’t think is fair or helpful is to manufacture arguments to try and justify a pre-conceived conclusion.

    I know hat we all do it to some extent, but some of the arguments against him are becoming ever more convoluted where even the positives are twisted into negatives.

    It’s not just on here. Thatvit happens, this ‘fake news’ is becoming ever more prevalent. Try looking on some of the American news sites and you’ll see it at its worst. In order to support their vision of the world, some American right wing sites now portray the UK as some dystopian ‘Hunger games’ where Birmingham is occupied by ISIS, the NHS is deliberately killing babies and you can’t venture outside for risk of the gangs of drive by shooters.

    Even the Royal Family are now hated by some of them and implicated in NHS killings, presumably because they’ve been joined by a black (I assume) democrat leaning woman.

    I know I’ve gone too far with the analogy, but I’m sure you get my point.

  85. According to Transfermarkt web site, RDM had a net spend of +31.14m on player transfers. Spud’s net spend to date is -9.84m. Using the restaurant analogy, Spud has done the washing up left over from RDM’s banquet feast. It also means Tony Xia has financed +21.3m on player aquisitions.

    We watch with interest what happens this summer regarding player sales. It should tell us much about how deep or shallow Tony Xia’s pockets are. I’m in total agreement that AVFC must be a self sustaining business which is why obscene salaries paid to a few journeymen must be curtailed.

  86. plug
    terry 3m
    snodgrass 2m
    johnson 1.5m
    ooamh 1m
    axel .5m
    samba .5m
    almost 9m on loan players or free signings completly dead money

  87. Robbo- I know his trainers father and a fair bit about weight training/conditioning myself. Building strength while not getting excessively heavy as an athlete is not easy at the best of times and certainly isn’t on a ration of pre-season cardio and hectic match schedules, he would not be the same player period. Without the athleticism and stamina he now has I don’t think he would be dominating or lasting 90 mins as he has this season, having him would of meant not having the upgraded version. circumstances gave him the motivation to put the nose to the grindstone for sure, A case of can’t have it both ways.

    Of course we would of liked all players to be fit but they were not so make plans,simple. If we don’t sell him then I hope pre-season sorts him out but he looks a shadow of his former self.

  88. Plug- RDM’s spending was done by a committee almost, several including clarke Round and little worked on it we had next to no scouting network. It did give us chester, Jedinak, Adomah who saved our bacon this season and with Kodjia last season. Seems like some money well spent but I don’t think we have done well in that department overall for either manager.

    We spent £84.6 m that season their market worth £54m! We sold £45.9 m that season so how RDM accounts for £30+ m is important I don’t know?he recouped £24m as it was in such a rushed window, it was a mess. Loads went on frees including Robinson Okore and bennett but then our wage bill was £90+m and the players prices deflated. Yes Bruce saved some money or round/wyness did they had to.

  89. I wonder how many realise that Jack’s injury was so bad, that he only had a 50/50 chance of surviving the operation to his kidneys, and that moment in time with his surgeon, made him realise how precious his life was, and gave him a very big incentive to look at things differently, making him a very much more level headed young man, leaving behind his madder days.

    As the clock ticks on, we start to realise perhaps that next season will be a very difficult one. with Boro, Derby, Bristol City and Millwall well ahead of us in the team building game, and then West Brom, Stoke and Swansea having reasonable teams, managers and cash to make a flying start in the Championship. Villa are going to have to do some serious work in the Summer close season, starting a new team from scratch is not going to be easy. If we are in the top six play-off positions by Xmas, we will be doing well.

  90. JC: “You see nothing in it, I get that. You don’t want to speculate, get that too. Others will speculate. If it turns out to be a waste of time? No big loss.”

    Problem is, John, is that most of the speculation here appears to be driven by (1) dislike of Bruce and (2) of fear and reaction to last Saturday.

  91. JC- You see a problem where there isn’t one, you are claiming people dislike Bruce, not true all say he is decent.

    Its purely the football side that he lets himself down on. Sure we could all look at his achievements here and fair play but then you look at other new managers (Wolves, Huddersfield, Newcastle) achievements lately in the champs and that promotion specialist label looks a bit over played, he’s not the only one that knows the championship or football in it .

  92. And last saturday? we lost one of the biggest games in the clubs history, the precise reason he was brought in. This was always coming even Bruce knows it, we didn’t go out and try to win 1st half as often occurred this season.

  93. JL,

    There is no Dislike of Bruce, as far as I am aware on this site, the dislike you refer to, is of his methods. The same with yourself, we all admire and respect you , and your vast knowledge. However, we often do not necessarily agree with how you see things. You should be able to see the difference between the two.

    Now we all have to the next statement from the board, which I do not see happening for at least another week, whilst Xia calculates his future plans, and decides whether he sells the Recon Training Centre to a major developer, leaving them to do all the negotiations over HS2, and he recovers a substantial part of his investment from the sale.

  94. r0bb0
    I know this was for Ian Gibbo
    But I get your point, but it’s another outsider’s point to me, because the NHS is actually killing people [not babies], & some places aren’t safe at all.
    You’ve misread posts & contexts, trying too hard to manufacture something that doesn’t really ring true.
    People don’t all read the daily news & believe every word.

    The same applies to people’s opinions of Bruce.

  95. Interesting the messages on the Official Site saying how gutted they are, and thanking the fans for their amazing support are:

    John Terry, James Chester, Sam Johnstone, Conor Hourihane and Robert Snodgrass.

    All are accompanied by a recent photo of each, as if it may be their final goodbye to the fans, also included, was a one liner from Jack Grealish “We live and we learn”….and no photo.

    Does this mean that these are all the guys from the team that are going, or up for sale, and rest will make up the hardcore of the new squad for 2018/19.

  96. One thing I find strange is we seemed upset about not getting Auto because it meant less time to prepare. Well here we are with no Decisions made at all really and the so called plans for any scenario appears to be all wind at this point. The fallout of non promotion really couldn’t be planned for as so many variables exist, We go up they all want to stay, we don’t well we can’t afford them or like Thor they may not fancy being ignored for another season, still we have wheelan and his concrete boots 🙂

  97. jl
    dont know if anyone on here knows bruce personally
    ,i know nothing about bruce just hate his management skills or lack of nothing personal

  98. Hey rObbO
    I guess we disagree. I do understand your point of view. I’m just taking the selling of players out of the equation. I think Bruce did a fine job with the selling and buying finances. I just think he could have been a bit better with the buying end of it. The salaries paid to his buys were a sweet deal to the players.
    It takes two to tango except in this case it’s three (Wyness and Round) and perhaps they should be accountable as well. And finally, new to the game as he is perhaps Xia should take a more hands on approach and rely less on the three running the day to day operations.

  99. I question how much say RDM/Bruce had in acquisitions, that Jan window was all about bringing performing champs players in to push us over the line last season I believe, instead it sparked a dip from a promising position. Wyness even had to come out and say its about building for this season.

    Sure we lost a few to the Africa cup but Bruce was happy to sell our strike force to buy his own?or what the club/he saw as what was needed maybe ? champs players with resale was the hot topic. He came out and said we need goals from midfield and got not a lot.

    This summer was more like Bruce calling on his ex players and mates than a concerted effort of improving us long term. Certainly I question how it improved those we bought in Jan as a unit?

    So much of it was a gamble and about balancing that gamble with sales.

    What would a Steve Bruce build have looked like from the start? certainly he would of tried to salvage Gabby Richards and few others, maybe Kodjia, jedinak, Chester and certainly RMC would not have been here? maybe a few more manure loanee’s? who knows. Hernandez was to expensive we know that much and he tried to get Rhodes. Whatever the case he was unable to build something to his requirements in two windows imo, that big athletic pacey forward he likes so much never turned up and paid out on Hogan in Hope I feel more than anything, though Bruce declared a long term interest I remember.

    Anyway all water under the bridge.

  100. ian
    lansbury was out of contract at the end of last season yet some think bruce spent well in transfer market ,almost 3m and then wages slightly north of 40 thousand a week for a player he didnt pick

  101. Thats not a dig at Bruce by the way its just how I thought it happened, the club claimed to be learning after the Lerner Era but clearly didn’t. Not sure to what extent any one person is to blame, from the outside it looked poor but we had so many we could not shift or gave away, I hope not to see that this season at least a few are out of contract.

    Its my opinion we need to find a manager that suits the players we have remaining first and foremost, is that Bruce I don’t know? we also need a manager that can play on the front foot and develop players is that Bruce? on evidence so far no. A knowledge of the cheap end of the market world wide would not go amiss but we have scouts now. To be honest if I was a manager I would think twice about loaning a young player to Bruce.

  102. JG- we picked up several like that with clubs likely to lose them for nothing, looked good on paper but maybe not what Bruce required.

  103. mk
    just adding to the point on bruce great work in transfer market ,spend 3m at end of january for someone who was frr at end of may
    just seen this on roker ramble on their take on bruce ,he plays the sympathy card too often for a man in his position he is in a highly paid high profile job but why does he always make out he is the victim
    and for people saying he didnt have enough time roy keane took over sunderland under niall quinn and romped to promotion 23rd at end of august that season

  104. Reports surfacing today in the wake of Hecky getting booted from Leeds. They are after Bielsa to replace him. The very same guy that Steamer suggested we should go for. The great man will be turning in his grave.

  105. We had a worrier for a neighbour when the kids were still kids. She breast fed until her child was 4 because she thought we were going to run out of potatoes. Then would follow the school bus to the school—the remainder of its route and then walk her kid to the front door. The funny thing was her husband was a tough old school cop.

  106. Despite my support for Steve Bruce, I do understand the calls for change, particularly, someone who will try and rebuild a team based around our youth players and style.

    It seems that supporters of this approach are prepared to go this route even if it takes several years to achieve promotion on the assumption that it will create a team that will be better able to survive and thrive in the premiership.

    Whilst I understand all that, and would support the aspiration, when I read of Steve Bruce potentially moving to Leeds, it gave me a sickening feeling in my guts of what it would feel like watching us in mid-table whilst Leeds get promoted.

  107. r0bb0,


    I can see the argument for change as well, but the thought of scrapping the achievement that has been made (of getting the club back into self-respect) and the benefit of continuity seem to be commonsense reasons to give Bruce a 100% backing.

    He’ll be playing the youngsters anyway as he won’t have a bean to spend! And with Agnew around surely the coaching what’s what won’t be all Bruce anyway.

    And why oh why would Bruce want to go to Leeds when he’s said he always wanted to manage a club the size of Villa? Doesn’t make sense.

  108. Paul: “There is no Dislike of Bruce, as far as I am aware on this site, the dislike you refer to, is of his methods. “

    By “dislike of Bruce *of course* I was referring to him in his professional persona, Paul.

    It would be completely out of context if I was talking him about him personally.

    I’m disappointed that I should need to explain that.

  109. JL- please make it plain then John saves misunderstandings! Dislike is the wrong term anyway. I don’t believe he will set the team up to get the best from the talent we have but try to mould them to his style which is a mismatch for so many of our players imo, certainly none of the forwards have thrived.

    As for fearing that Bruce will take Leeds up while we stutter? We may watch similar happen anyway if he stays. Who knows what we will have left come august, could be not as bad as thought or worse. One things for sure he’s lost his defensive base pretty much.

  110. jl
    i wished you well on your retirement leave it at that ,we disagree on bruce and no bruce will never be able to manage youth ,as i wrote yesterday look at what every other club say about bruce when he leaves

  111. JL- Do what you must (sigh) I do think you take offence very easily mate when nones been given. How many times has the Bruce haters line come out this season? Dislike Bruce is about on par, Dislike Bruce’s Tactics I get.

  112. I think there’s a certain amount of talking to oneself on here at the moment.
    There’s really no need to personalise things in this way.

    What have I done know, except for disagreeing with some views & expressing it?

  113. JG: “no bruce will never be able to manage youth ,as i wrote yesterday look at what every other club say about bruce when he leaves”

    James, It’s an interesting comment and I’ve tried to find the comments from all his other clubs about his lack of youth development but not managed it. Probably putting the wrong words into Google.
    Can you post some of the links please?

  114. Mark
    Well here’s one!
    Yes, how much any of it is true will all be revealed [at some point].
    Probably after England’s out of the world cup, & the transfer window doesn’t open until July I think, so probably before that.
    I just rather not hear Bruce trotting out the excuses before we even start the season.

  115. mk
    did you see dean saunders quote on bruce lack of plan a,b or any plan on twitter

    ian g
    the transfer window opened at end of season and closes earlier for premier league , not 100 percent sure if it same in championship

  116. I just read about jack being worth £40 mill and the club is worth £100 mill and that both are for sale at that price. Just like randy, Xia is getting ready to jump ship but has to get some finances in order. The fact there is a rumour of Bruce checking out his options strengthens my thoughts in this regard. Teams sniffing around Jack? He’s gone it’s just a matter of a dance partner now.
    Expect nothing in this upcoming window.

  117. IanG- thanks mate I feel involved now 🙂 let’s start a sweepstakes “that’s the championship for you “ is the phrase pick a game week I’m having game 5 pre season doesn’t count.

  118. Ian- hearing all sorts and I wonder why the docs gone back to China? Maybe nothing but l don’t think Chinese companies are playing with their own money entirely. At this rate we’ll be wishing that the Lerner rescue plan had happened. Definitely needs a few rumours squashing before it gets to far.

  119. The rumours need to go away. Always too much speculation based on nothing with them floating around.
    The way football is run nothing is concrete until the final day of transfer.
    I think Chinese business practices are different to western ones. National money behind Xia? He failed and has to face some consequences back home.

  120. mk
    if that was bruce putting his trust in them he should have been renamed doubtin thomas ,spurs lad got more games than all our youth put together

  121. Mark, it’s always interesting looking back. I think we all feel that the youth could have been used more and imagine that there really will be no choice this year.

    More interesting in that article I think was the observation that the senior players hadn’t been showing commitment and he felt that young players would give their all in the way the ‘grown ups’ hadn’t.

    It’s easy to forget just how toxic the atmosphere at Villa had been for years.

    Found those articles from all of Bruce’s previous clubs yet JG?

  122. ‘Toxic element’
    Well as I remember, there has always been a toxic element at VP.
    Does anyone really think that will change apart from the definition?
    The internal culture is well changed, with just the leftover problems such as a manager’s somewhat concealed preferences & weaknesses.

  123. robbo
    when for last few weeks you and your bunny boiler mate have been on here slagging me off with your sanctimonious wit ,you think i am going to answer to you,we did agrre long time ago not to answer one another which i kept until i could take no more of your constant trolling ,you seem to think your view is the only one counts

  124. JG. I don’t believe mine is the only view that counts at all.
    If you read my posts (don’t blame you if I don’t) I’ve often said that I accept that others on here know more about football tactics than I do.

    There are so many variables in football that I don’t have enough knowledge to see things in black and white. When people are ‘certain’ of things or state facts then I fine it interesting.

    Earlier you stated that fans at all of Bruce’s previous clubs complained about him not using youth once he’d left.

    When I asked for the links the easy thing for you to do would be to provide them. . . . unless you’d just made it up.

    The fact that you immediately resorted to insults when I asked for the links suggests to me that maybe you did just make it up.

    If not, it’d still be interesting to see them.

  125. r0bb0
    Referring to the post:
    Well it’s in the text [see below], & in English, so if it’s a duck… & so on

    You really think you’re going to find something definitively different from his tenure so far at Villa?”

    The subject itself was the Kid’s lack of playing time with the 1st team, & if Bruce had the same problem with other clubs he’s managed, if I recall.

  126. IanG “Bruce had the same problem with other clubs he’s managed, if I recall”

    It’s the ‘if I recall’ that bothers me.

    So much of what we read these days ( not just on here) is conjecture, presented as fact, and on issues far more important than those we discuss on here.

    It’s why I asked JG for the links to the articles about clubs complaining about Bruce not using youth players at “Every other club” “after he leaves”

    Without any evidence, it’s propaganda rather than useful information. Before you know it, a manufactured myth becomes common knowledge, on which we all then base our opinions.

    I know this is just a fans blog, but I’ll admit to having learned a lot from what I’ve read on here but I do like to check that what I’ve ‘learned’ really is true.
    . . . . that’s all

  127. r0bb0
    I didn’t say Bruce had the same problem, I said IF….
    You’re replying to yourself a bit.

    Other than that, I also looked & couldn’t find anything except that he says the same things as he’s said here.
    It just seemed to me that after his track record here, & people being habitual creatures, that I wouldn’t rule it out at all.
    Maybe it’s the way he keeps repeating inanities

  128. Iang someone has to 🙂 be interested to know if he’s still in contact with those scouts? Read he introduced a youth system at Hull or was involved at least and they brought in Swansea’s youth team no less. Don’t suppose he was there long enough to develop any players. On the other hand can’t say any of his teams reflect a youth policy, always seemed to be a results based manager and his buys reflect that over the years other than hull.

  129. IanG. . . sorry, been talking at. Ross purposes. I hadn’t understood the point you were trying to make . . . . I still haven’t got it (that why I said I was ‘probably being dense’ at the start)
    The discussion has probably moved on now though! 🙂

  130. Mark K. . . well done on finding those articles . . . better than I did.
    The Sunderland one is uncannily similar, with young players getting a chance when older players were injured.

    The Hull experience is more encouraging and suggests that when money is tight then he may not be totally averse to playing youth. Good point about his Hull scouting team, especially if they were ‘second to none’. Although that is probably something of an exaggeration, it does seem that they did a decent job.

  131. I see the Crystal Palace chairman is feeling sorry for Villa fans, and that the club is up for sale for £100million, and Bruce should be considering the Leeds job. Maybe all pie in the sky, but I see the Supporters’ Association has asked the club for a statement, which probably indicates that there is some truth in Xia wanting to pull out.

    In which case, we are now in a worse position than when Lerner owned the club, as we are now a Championship club with a truly mixed bag of overpaid players, no money, and no-one to lead us…!!

  132. pp
    parachute payments all gone ,fox/riley lads all gone, clark baker westwood rudi all gone what have we left ,squad with having 80/90m spent is threadbare of quality,our youth no one knows if they can cut it

  133. Plug, just seen Elvis in our chippy,
    all due respect mate, don’t take it too seriously. no quotes, no statements, just a kite flying in the sky.

  134. A very clear request from the Aston Villa Supporters Trust:
    Aston Villa Supporters’ Trust share with all of our supporters the acute disappointment following our failure to rejoin the Premier League last Saturday.

    That defeat has posed huge question marks about Villa’s immediate financial future and, inevitably, the future of Steve Bruce.

    Next season we will have to manage without the experienced loan players and, possibly, the jewels in our playing crown if sales have to be made to meet the demands of FFP.

    Whilst we appreciate the owner’s words earlier in the week, we call upon the AVFC Board to make a more detailed statement about our future and how we intend to work around the financial pressure that a failure to gain promotion brings.

    This was raised at the AVST AGM and we were somewhat “flat batted” in response that there were plans for both promotion and remaining in the Championship but what does this mean in real terms? How much of the deficit can be recovered by no longer meeting the wages of loanees and those out of contract? What pressures are we under to sell players to make ends meet? Does it mean there is no money available for transfers this Summer?

    We also implore the club to make an early decision on the future of Steve Bruce. It is not for us to judge whether he should continue in his post. Some of our members believe we can go one better next season with him at the helm and others feel that failure to be promoted again is not acceptable.

    Regardless, we need clarity. It seems clear there will be something of an overhaul in the squad this Summer. When you factor in the World Cup, and the transfer window closing a month earlier than we are accustomed to, there is no time to waste.

    Whatever the decision on the future of the manager it is clear we need to make greater use of our excellent crop of young players next season and it would be nice to see us play the front foot football we do in our junior groups to make use of the final year of parachute payments.

    Dr Xia and Mr Wyness, our supporters can set their expectations accordingly but please reassure us that our plan for this offseason will ensure we remain competitive in terms of looking to be promoted next season.

    They obviously feel that all is not well.

  135. Only one of the Chinese Billionaire’s has been successful, and that is the Wanda Corporation at Wolves (also the richest and most successful). The rest at Villa, Blues and West Brom, have all come up short, and will struggle now.

    We can only hope and wait that there is someone out there that sees the potential that Villa have as a club.

    The grand sell off will begin shortly, otherwise!

  136. Archie
    I think it is reasonable to be concerned atm
    Dr Xia has prided himself on keeping in touch with the fans and will be fully aware of fan concerns.

    I believe that if he had firm news on the club he would come out and say so.

    The longer we are without news then the more likely it is that he is indeed trying to sell.

    If that’s the case then we will have to wait until then to find out about the position of the manager.

    Steve Bruce has apparently stated that he would like to stay. It will then come down to whether the new owner wants him to.

    Of course there is every chance that it won’t be possible to sell the club for the (speculated?) £100m and we could end up with Xia and Bruce again next season by default.

    In the meantime we are in in stasis in the run up to a difficult season. . . . . not a comfortable position to be in!

    I do hope that isn’t the case after all.

  137. robbo
    But he has made a statement, we have to (as a club) work within the constraints of the FFP, focus on the youth team and reduce the wage bill.
    What he hasn’t done is make a statement on the future of SB, which, (with all due respect) I think you are waiting for. SB is on holiday and won’t be back at is desk until next Monday. He could sack him while he’s on holiday I suppose or wait until the board meeting when he returns. If he does sack him its going to cost him, Tony Xia, that is. Get the fans current darling Dean Smith, more compo, or someone currently out of work, Big Sam, Mad Mick or Paul Lambert, RDM theres plenty out there.
    I dont see it happening, I see SB remaining and getting back on the loan network and bringing through our young talent.
    We’ll see

  138. I think bruce has done well but failed.

    The whole point going for him and buying the experienced pros was instant promotion.

    He has done well forging a team spirit, making the dressing room united and bringing a bit of feel good factor back after years of poison and a massive gap between fans and the team.

    But with wholesale changes now needed and the introduction of the kids we need bruce gone.

    has to be dean smith for me.

  139. I see that Veretout is now very much in demand after leaving Villa just two seasons ago for a song.

    Marseilles have already offered 20 million euro’s for him to join them, teaming up once more with Amavi, who again, we parted with quite cheaply…..more wonderful business by our management.

    Very interesting how Veretout, Amavi, Geuye, Ayew, Westwood, Lowton, Bennett, Baker, Albrighton and many more, have left Villa and become successful within the space of a couple of years, which begs the question, is it the recruiters getting it wrong, or the managers we employ..???

  140. paul id say only vertout and amavi and albri have only done really well.

    Westowood hardly plays, gollini and gill have bombed. baker hasn’t done anything but be injured. ayew okish. gana started well and I like him but has struggled at toffees.

  141. Andrew
    Maybe they only understand emotive stuff in usa.
    Their loss.
    He didn’t bomb here by the way, he was shafted & lied to.
    What’s your motivation in slagging Garde?

  142. Andrew- Westwood played in over half the games and we might be due some money from a clause |I read, and crewe to in turn. Geuye was in the top 5 for tackles in Europe and 1st to get to a 100 in a season, I think Everton have struggled this season full stop. Lowton has played a lot for Burnley since the move and has done well imo.

    Crazy stuff if true after all the Docs professed love and in it for the long term speeches, we shall see.

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