The Steve Bruce era at Aston Villa came to an abrupt if not surprising end after 102 games, and just as it was for Roberto Di Matteo, Preston North End was Bruce’s ostensible undoing. There’s a lot that’s been said, but it won’t stop me sharing a thought or two.

Thank you, Steve
First, I do want to give Bruce thanks. Not just because it’s polite, but because he did do good things for the club. He offered some stability. We saw some fight at times, and a transition away from the dark days of our drawn-out fall from grace.

Further, Bruce was willing to stand by the club during the summer’s turmoil and uncertainty. He soldiered on through the death of his parents. He got us one win away from a return to the promised land.

But in the end, it wasn’t enough. So go on, Steve, relax a bit. You deserve a rest and some time away from the pressure and the spotlight. It wasn’t an easy ask, we know that, and the club is better off than when you took over.

Fruit and Veg
For the record, I certainly don’t condone throwing vegetables (except in the case of Donald Trump or bucolic festivals). The most famous cabbage in the football world was obviously launched with malice aforethought by a man at the end of his rope, which excuses nothing, but just as obviously summed up the frustrations of many. It was tragic and comic at the same time. Which simply made it thoroughly modern Villa.

Kidding aside, Bruce didn’t deserve that, and it obviously didn’t reflect well on Villa. Is it a modern affliction? Well, I’ve watched a lot of vintage films where tomatoes being hurled at poor stage acts was standard practice. Depending on what sort of music you like, you may well have seen bottles being thrown at the band, both empty and full.

Supporter Power
This brings us to ‘supporter power’. Bruce largely seems to believe that a small but vocal minority of the supporters were his downfall. I don’t think that’s true. Or, I should say, I don’t think he’s right. He believes what believes. What I believe is that those who aren’t happy with Villa’s play, position in the table, Randy Lerner’s or Tony Xia’s tenures, or whatever else are not some small subset of irrational bullies.

There are always blowhards. There are always those whose glasses are half-empty, those who are shortsighted, those whose default response to anything is to get angry and call people names. And if it’s true that Calderwood was responding to something truly appalling being said to Bruce? Well, he had every right, and it’s that  “supporter” who should be banned. Shame he didn’t get a beating. But that’s the true minority. It’s that way in our regular lives, too.

Some pundits maintain Bruce’s sacking is crazy. Some are saying “they’re only six points off,” or “he’s gotten promotion four times.” Some say it’s because he managed blues. How many of them have watched virtually every Villa game the last four years, never mind the last decade? Repeating that well-worn promotion line is lazy. As they tell you when you put your money in investments: Past performance does not guarantee future results. The blues thing is just stupid and lazy.

It wasn’t the fans. The cabbage and Whelan might’ve gotten Bruce the sack sooner rather than later, but it seems apparent that Sawiris and Edens were looking to the first quarter of the season to evaluate the balance on their considerable investment. These men didn’t get rich by not taking calculated risks, and they’re taking one now. They saw a team with only two new players on the pitch blow a 2-0 lead to the worst form side in the league. They saw a man taking and missing a game-winning penalty who has no business being in the side to begin with, but has been a Bruce favorite. They saw a dead man walking, a man falling back on caution, a defensive manager without a defense. They did not see the future.

In short, they were never convinced by Bruce. They’ll have done their homework. They’ll have studied last season. The players brought in, the players selected and sidelined, the money spent, the ups and downs, and all the rest. They left Bruce in place long enough to get a sense of the season and whether it was fair to judge Bruce on last year. They supported Grealish’s contract, McGinn’s signing, Bolassie’s wages, and whatever else. They’re apparently willing to risk a points deduction that would virtually guarantee yet another year down. They saw a side as expensive and talented as any in the Championship win one in nine. They simply decided to cut their losses and change course.

Yes, keeping the fans onside can be good business. But neither of these men have been afraid of making unpopular decisions. They kept Bruce because of a poll, then sacked him weeks later because the tide of opinion had shifted? I don’t believe either of those explanations.

Are They Right?
We’ll soon see. But they were either going to stick with Bruce to whatever conclusion, or double down on their promotion goal, demand more, and make a change soon enough to have a chance of succeeding. We’ll talk about all the things behind the scenes we don’t know. My guess is that Compass know more about it than we do. They may well have concluded everyone needed a swift kick up the arse. Or that those in the game calling Villa shapeless and directionless are the ones who are right. Or both.

We all know that when a team underachieves changes will be made, and sometimes those changes come quicker than others. I obviously agree with those who say Villa were underachieving.

Managers come and go, just like CEOs. They know going in that, right or wrong, they’re signing up to be responsible for what’s on the pitch. Bruce knew he was supposed to get us up last year, fair or not. He signed up for it.

Me, I think setting a high bar is crucial. And that’s coming from someone who’s suffered greatly at the hands of truly unrealistic expectations. An FA-founding club like Villa with hundreds of millions invested simply can’t settle for the second tier. It just can’t be part of our DNA.

And for years now, Villa’s DNA has not convinced quality players. Grealish would’ve loved a switch to Spurs and a chance to play under Pochettino. McGinn is already being touted for greater things. Milner, Barry, and Young didn’t leave because Villa didn’t want or try to hold on to them. They left because Villa were going nowhere, and more successful clubs were offering them more money to come chase their dreams.

Final Thought
Steve Bruce did his best, and I thank him for it. And whether circumstances, his own shortcomings, or both did him in, the end result is the same. I’ve watched managers and coaches fail miserably in one place, then succeed brilliantly somewhere else. And vice versa. Sometimes the fit just isn’t right, sometimes it’s perfect. And of course now we’ll never know whether Bruce would ultimately have proven to be the right man.

Players will obviously thank him. Some will genuinely be sorry to see him go. Others will be delighted. All of them will be thinking about how they fit into the new man’s plans. The trick is whether the new man has a plan that’s any good. But he certainly won’t be starting with nothing. Okay, he’ll be starting with less than two actual CBs. Once again, he’ll know exactly what he’s signing up for.

Villans? Just like the players, once again we have to trust in new owners to set the right course and pick the right man. All we can do is hope the club is in good hands and that this throw of the dice isn’t just a reckless gamble. Time will tell.

Over to you.

Comments 93

  1. Spot on Jc in my book. I think we can all point to the many obstacles in Bruce’s and other managers way over the years but ultimately it’s down to them. If Bruce believes the fans did for him and not other factors then he’s not for us. If he cannot see problems or maybe see them but not address them then he’s going nowhere.

    Ultimately 8 wins in the last 24 tells a story

  2. Great leader JC.

    I fully agree with all that you have concluded, although not so sure that when the fans were in such solid support of Bruce at the beginning of the season, that they decided to hold back and give him a run to see where he would take us, and once the support disappeared, they were happy to move on with there plans.

  3. “…the club is better off than when you took over.

    The first person to say so! Well done, John.

    But then you say this: “They saw a team with only two new players on the pitch blow a 2-0 lead to the worst form side in the league.”

    This is surely where we have it all wrong. Villa were 2-0 in the lead (OK, yes, they didn’t come out in the 2nd half in the best manner, but neither had they started the match in the best manner), the skipper gets sent off, penalty converted, 2-1.

    We then have Bree come on to the pitch. Last season we had Chester and Terry who largely (not always) controlled things in the centre. What we dd we have after 58 mins vs Preston? – Bree and Axel, who, though not all bad players, were nowhere near the experience and strength of Chester and Terry.

    Yes, Villa did subside to 2-3, but then they revived and we could even have won it at the death. In other words, the owners sacked Bruce because of the missed penalty? Perhaps they didn’t because they were conscious of the fans’ reaction, but if Villa had won that match at the death, perhaps they wouldn’t have sacked him!

    Villa were 6 points away from getting somewhere and still an early-ish point in the season, and players that were still getting to know one another.

    If things had run right vs Preston Villa would have built on the 2-0 lead and fi9ished having scored 4 or 5 goals. Even it had finished 3-1 (say), then it would still have been an acceptable win and a trigger for better things.

    And from there Villa would have climbed, I’m sure.

    But it’s all under the bridge now. Nowt to do about it. But – please – let history look at it a bit more kindly in favour of Bruce than you suggest, John.

  4. Jl- why did pne get a penalty? Because they applied all the pressure and had changed their midfield. Why did we only venture forward once behind? Fear of losing? Instructions? Who knows. This is not about one match we beat Rotherham and didn’t push on. I can see why you think what you do but it’s more than one match, nobody gets sacked over one match.

  5. Well said JC. Your thoughts echo mine.

    JL – I think the end for SB came when the atmosphere at the last home game turned toxic. When that happens a manager is pedalling up hill. I predicted it a few weeks back and I’m no mystic. It was coming. Had Whelan converted the penalty, I don’t share your certainty that Villa would have climbed. Strangely as it seems, I’m now more confident of getting something at Millwall with Kevin Mac in charge and yes, I know his first game last time he stood in was a thrashing at Newcastle.

    I now have some hope. Hope that we will move away from the turgid, defensive, negative footy employed by SB. Hope that Compass will appoint the right man/men. Hope that we see some entertainment at last. Because as others have said, there hasn’t been much on display at VP in the last 2 years.

  6. MK: “… it’s more than one match, nobody gets sacked over one match.”

    Of course, that goes without saying, but what I’m saying is here is added to what I’ve said before – it was virtually a new midfield and attack and Bruce was probably treading carefully – that seems to be his nature.

    You expect all managers to do what you think is right, but here we had a very experienced man to get Villa promotion who’d done it all before and does it his way.

    Just because he does it like that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

    As as to it being over just one match, the issue is that people do not have any patience these days. The change-around over the summer and its affect on the squad was bound not to produce immediate results – or at least was not that likely to.

    This is beginning to remind me of the days of Joe Mercer when he was pilloried by Villa fans to his sickbed. he was a manager a bit like Bruce, and knew what he was doing. And look at what he did at Man City afterwards.

    Villa fans can be merciless.

  7. MK,

    And of course the sacking was primarily because the fans had got on Bruce’s back – or he helped to bring it on himself, if you like. That was the real cause of the sacking for me.

  8. Plug: “I now have some hope. Hope that we will move away from the turgid, defensive, negative footy employed by SB.”

    As things stand we’ve not much of a defence, so there has to be some extra care about that aspect of the team.

    As to the mythological turgid football under Bruce I completely disagree. Villa were scoring at about 2 goals per game after December last year and we saw some pretty lively stuff from time to time – like the 5-0 and 4-1 tharshings of Bristol and Wolves.

    If you’re comparing Villa with Barca and the like then you would have a point, but not in the Championship! I thought there were times last season when we compared favourably with Wolves and Fulham. And it was Fulham that played dirty tricks to stop Jack from getting us back into the match in the final play-off.

    Let’s be fair about Bruce – he was not the best manager ever by any means, but we just are too fickle and are very impatient after 6 years of the club being pulled downhill by mismanagement.

  9. JL: Last season we had Chester and Terry who largely (not always) controlled things in the centre. What we dd we have after 58 mins vs Preston? – Bree and Axel, who, though not all bad players, were nowhere near the experience and strength of Chester and Terry

    And who shoulders the blame for this? He gambled on getting Terry back and let his only other experienced center-back leave. He expected Chester to never get injured or sent off?

  10. it was virtually a new midfield and attack and Bruce was probably treading carefully – that seems to be his nature.

    An experienced manager in the business for two decades should know how to bed in players. McGinn and Abraham are already quite settled in and Bolasie has proved to be a super sub. As always Steve never had a second plan when we went behind or a man down, there was no change in formation or tactics. That for me is his failure as a manager.

    As to your point on patience, the fans are feeding off the financial situation we are in. We nearly went into administration and Compass has gambled on getting promotion this year. We are in the mire if this doesnt happen, and the results so far has deepened that fear. Would SB had more time if this was not the case, I think yes. I think the additional pressure affected him as well and he didnt react too well to it.

  11. Jl- I agree that he brought a lot of it on himself with his comments and that sealed his fate but not winning was the major problem as it was with rdm.

    I don’t know if you remember when the new owners turned up? Bruce made statement about us being to old last season and more attacking play being needed. Well he may have done that to the detriment of defence and his own beliefs. Quite likely those words were from the top hence his frustrations overflowing. Only the other day He said we will have to reacess and would be training to not concede more or less.

    Can’t go by what he says totally but it fits with what I a have seen this season.

  12. Villalore: “And who shoulders the blame for this? He gambled on getting Terry back and let his only other experienced center-back leave.”

    He didn’t gamble on getting Terry back at all – that was just a “might be” and Villa couldn’t afford his wages after signing the loan players. That was all last-minute stuff because of the summer issues – not a lot to do with Bruce.

    On Elphick the manager clearly felt there was some kind of attitude problem that Bruce wasn’t willing to risk. Again, this is one of those situations where we’re not privy to what went on and the cause for Elphick leaving. There must have been a good reason, that’s all.

  13. The games against wolves and Bristol last season were played against two teams that attack. Perfect to counter which we did. Most other teams don’t do that to us and so we struggle, that is the fundemental problem with being a big team in this league. You have to be good at breaking teams down or drawing them out, we are generally not.

  14. Villalore: “An experienced manager in the business for two decades should know how to bed in players. “

    Ah, but it’s not all to do with the manager. There’s such a thing as chemistry and understanding that develops between players. That rarely happens straight off – it usually takes time.

  15. MK,

    The point is that all was not so bad with Bruce, though you pretend it was!

    In fact I think you were one of those that predicted we’d lose in the VP encounter against Wolves!

  16. JL – As to the mythological turgid football under Bruce I completely disagree.

    I presume the term mythological turgid football is based on us finishing 4th last term and therefore we were half decent or even better? A question John. Did you go down to any of the home games last year? Yes, Bristol City and Wolves were top notch along with one or two others. The game against small heath was all about smacking them one. But in 50 odd home games under SB the fare served up was awful. I lost count of the times I trudged out the ground feeling underwhelmed. So many games I’ve waited 60 or 70 minutes before we get a shot on target and in some games I could have been in goal for the opposition.

    In so many games, the fans around me were aching for some goalmouth action. But it doesn’t happen very often when a team only commits one man into the opponents penalty area.

  17. Plug,

    I saw most of Villa’s matches last season – on TV. Am not able to get to actual matches.

    I didn’t see that many matches that turned me off. Some did, but that’;s usual in any season under any manager.

    And no, my comment isd based on what I saw – not the end position in the league.

    I’ve seen nearly 70 (seventy!) years of Villa and can say I’ve seen everything. Compared to other seasons in my time, what we saw under Bruce was mostly OK – especially from December to April last season. Also in the match at Wigan at the start of this season, but there defending was admittedly woeful.

  18. JL – There was nothing in the press or player comments to show there was any attitude issues, so not sure where are you reading this from. SB like all managers has his favorites and his dislikes, it was clear that Elphick was in the latter. Eventually the decision to do without him may have also contributed to his own demise.

  19. Villalore,

    And you think the media tells you everything?

    As to “favourites and dislikes” you might be right – perhaps Elphick did something out of order for Bruce to take that view?

    It’s the same at anyone’s place of work. Do you think it works differently with other football managers? There’s clearly a reason why Elphick was put out so I would ask you to send Brucie a twitter message to find out why! 😉

  20. Jl
    Do you read any of your posts before pressing send button.
    For 2 years you preached give Bruce more time 6 Yes six managers promoted since Bruce took over all bar card if doing ok ,Newcastle there a different story but then rafa making money for Ashley so in his eyes doing a good job.
    Fans got Bruce the sack laughable,1 win in 10 and end of last season was shocking.
    No fit centre Half only 1 person to blame your mate
    You should open a blog and invite a few from other blogs where you’d could lament Bruce sacking

  21. Automobiles have a weak link in the drive train. It’s not an expensive part, put there on purpose, to fail before the expensive parts fail. This is what a manager or coach are, the sacrificial lamb. They are hired only to be fired as they are the least expensive part of a team. Getting out of the game like SAF and Wenger are in fact fairytales come true. Bruce like most, reached the end of service at the team they were running. Somehow, somewhere things turned sour. It doesn’t matter how it just does. And the cycle starts over again hoping to find the right mix of parts and success.
    Being happy with the team you follow isn’t a given. Being a fan of that team and you invariably see the spots that need fixing. 20/20 hindsight. You fixate on it and vent your spleen. When thousands of fans are venting it’s a sign that inexpensive part is about to fail. As Jedinak is hesitant in a CB role and not up to snuff so does a manager start to hesitate hoping to avoid the thumbs down like so many christians in Ancient Rome.
    Managers are in the spotlight but are paid handsomely. We should get over it and look forward to that new part arriving and hope it does the trick out on the race track and holds together for the duration of this year’s race card.

  22. Ian,

    That’s as may be – and I wouldn’t disagree if your piece related to the Bruce situation. But i.m.o. it doesn’t.

    But as I’ve said myself already, nowt can be done about it. But the reason why others don’t want to hear any more is likely because they know they’re not right.

    This is the wrong time for it to have happened and I seriously worry for the future of the Villa if it goes on like this. Some of the media contenders for the job most probably wouldn’t last 2 years either – is that the way you should run a football club, or any kind of business? I don’t think so.

  23. Elphick would have to be a saint does he to play? Bruce said Elphick just got on with it, a good professional, Elphick said he knew he stood no chance after scoring in Villas 1st win this season and being dropped next game same as the Bristol game. I think he probably asked to go out on loan as we were looking at other CB’s and Tuenzabe was also promised pitch time. Same for Delaet who in bruces words was our best player pre-season.

    Remember Bruce throwing all the players that played Burton under the bus saying he couldn’t consider them for Saturday they were that bad? they’d had the audacity to knock on his door apparently and ask why they are not playing or to be considered, nice bloke Bruce. If I was Elphick I’d be p*ssed off.

  24. Won’t be able to engage much today, but appreciate the as-always lively discussion.

    On Elphick/behind the scenes:

    The biggest danger in bringing in so many players is that you almost invariably alienate a number of those in place. If there is disaffection in the camp (think back to Bruce’s comments about Hourihane and Bjarnason being ‘rightly’ upset they weren’t playing, or Albert’s brother’s tirade), it can certainly be the manager’s doing, however nice a guy he may be.

    As I’ve said many times, I’d be livid if I were Bjarnason and watching Whelan start ahead of me. If I’m Adomah, not well pleased to see Elmohamady out there in my place. They’ve both been model professionals and kept it to themselves, but doesn’t mean the squad has been handled adroitly.

    Bruce’s call, of course. But those are the calls you have to get right…the rest of the players have to believe the starting XI is based on merit, that you can play your way into the squad, and that the system and tactics are sound.

    They also want to be surrounded with the players they think give them the best chance of winning. They have a pretty good idea what their best XI should be, even taking into consideration that all players want to be playing (bar a couple who seem quite content to get paid just for being on the training ground).

    And they won’t particularly care whether they all really like each other as long as everyone’s producing, working hard for each other, and playing well together. Those divisions get papered over by winning. When you’re not winning, the fingers start to point.

    When you’re Elphick and Jedi is being given in-game training to take over a position you’ve played your whole life? You’re probably not going to be happy about that.

  25. JL- “But as I’ve said myself already, nowt can be done about it. But the reason why others don’t want to hear any more is likely because they know they’re not right.”

    what? 🙂

  26. JC- Quite likely mate, I know for a fact when There were divisions in the team or cliques Elphick was the one that tried to bring things together last summer before Terry etc arrived. I can’t see him making Captain in Howes sides and being an arsehole.

  27. Apparently Gabby had offers in the champs but didn’t want to play Villa.

    Meanwhile Peter Whithe has offered to manage us for nothing thats how confident he is he can get us going in the right direction.

  28. JC
    thanks for the writeup.
    Yes we owe him thanks, but unlike JL, I think you’ve been over kind in the praise.
    But he’s gone, & as I hoped I was wrong for the first season he was here, it finally dawned on me that giving people the benefit of the doubt only goes so far.
    However nice a person he is or isn’t, wasn’t the issue for me, just that intuitively I realised that he was not the right person for the job & as everything came at too high a cost & was too wearing.
    The cabbage incident was obviously an expression of this, although I wouldn’t have thrown one at him, & it’s not productive for me to judge or indulge in moral outrage.

    Setting a high bar is imperative, & he never measured up to that in my opinion for a number of reasons.
    So I see the latter part of his reign as flattering to deceive, & what happened a inevitable unless he got lucky.
    So it became obvious that he & the flow of events were not compatible.

    He’s gone, I wish him well & move on to see the next instalment of the AVFC saga, & hope compass know where true north is.

  29. Oh, & I look forward to Millwall, as I’m interested in where the players are at as professionals, as talent only takes you so far.
    UTV

  30. IanG- Me too mate never thought he was what Villa or the squad we had needed, and certainly not what Aston Villa the club needed to do on relegation but all about what Xia needed to do.

  31. Mark
    Yes Dr Tony!
    A bit full of it as a decoy, hoping it works
    Compass are in a different league to Dr Tony’s lack of experience.
    In China there many companies with his attitude, that start with a fanfare & bow out with a whimper & destroy reputations or ‘face’.
    We will see.

  32. John,

    I think we’re going a little bit overboard here, pardon me for saying.

    What I’ve indirectly been alluding to is the old (rather rude) punchline: “So what”?

    If I appear to be defending Bruce on all fronts then I apologise, as I quite realise that he has foibles. Indeed, haven’t I always said so?

    Whether there’s a foible at work in respect of Elphick I just don’t know, but hey he’s the manager and he has to do what he thinks is right.

    I am simply trying to counter the “good riddance Bruce” inferences that show up on many messages. And also to say that it’s always greener on the other side of the fence. If the next appointment ain’t right then I don’t see promotion and another axing within 2 years.

  33. JL,

    We hear this “stuff we don’t know about,” and I’m pointing out that it can cut both ways. Sometimes a player is the problem, sometimes the manager.

    In this Elphick scenario, I don’t think Bruce was being a ‘bad guy’, but that in his selections and approach to fixing things he may well have needlessly alienated some players. It happens, it’s a risk attendant with bringing in new players. Just rather unfortunate in Elphick’s case given the dearth of CBs at the club. Doesn’t look to have been very clever in retrospect. But, we’ll see what happens with Tuanzebe and Jedi.

    But, since this is a postmortem/farewell, I obviously think these are elements of the tenure that are fair to bring up. Jedi at CB, Tuanzebe at RB, Bree not playing until an emergency. Elmo as a winger, etc. These decisions can be the sorts of things that cause behind-the-scenes problems.

    And indeed, I agree: If the next appointment doesn’t deliver the Holy Grail, I think Compass know there’s a total rebuild ahead.

  34. Who ever comes in next will have to have won over the squad well before he sets foot at bodymoor. The players need that in order to stop any perceived grumbling. I’m looking forward to it. Someone to give that feeling of excitement. Definitely not someone who smacks of safe and sound.
    Allardyce and Moyes would deflate my balloon.

  35. John,

    Yes … but the real question is was Bruce likely to make progress?

    Now clearly the big majority say not, but as you well know I wanted to see what happened by the time October was out to properly judge given that this/is a new season after all the kerfuffle during the summer and trying to get a new squad working in the right direction.

    That’s all I am ever concerned with. But that’s just me perhaps. For me all the issues that go on within the club are the club’s affair and should not be for general debate. Not saying you can’t debate, but why try to when all the knowledge is not there and all anyone can do is grasp at straws.

    Bruce had a good reputation but with known foibles. The fact was that he was capable of getting promotion because he had shown before that he could do it. But of course the way he went about things was not to the fans liking and it’s really the fans that forces the club’s hand. As they did with poor old Joe Mercer and nearly with Ron Saunders as well.

    At this point we do not know where we are going. It could be over a cliff edge. But perhaps not…

  36. All I can say, is that it all feels lighter now, but as JL & JC have been inferring, we don’t really know what’s going to happen, but it can be good not bad, so I don’t see the point in being overly negative as yet.
    But as JG said we might as well view the past as manure at VP with Spring coming.

    Ian
    Floating boats?
    Most of the aforementioned names together along with Bruce, would probably sink my boat.

  37. JL- I think we are well aware things can go either way they usually do, when we took Bruce on many predicted this scenario as he had replicated it at a few clubs now, yes he’s had his successes but never at a big club such as ours, underdog suits him and his approach.

  38. Enjoyed the well composed leader.
    Yes, the Steve Bruce gamble is over. It was considered a safe bet. We know the result, could have gone “either way” last season. The next throw of the dice will be interesting. Good luck. I don’t mean that sarcastically.
    Whatever happens, a fresh approach will be welcomed. I’d go with Henri if he’s willing to accept Villa’s conditions. He’s still a greenhorn and many will say so but an experienced manager didn’t work anyway.
    One aspect of Villa’s game that annoys me is the amount of lost ball. We seem to lose the ball more than other teams. Our players need to pass more accurately and be more composed on the ball.
    Wouldn’t it be great to get a manager/coach staff that are successful enough to implement a successful style so that the club not only benefits but they get to stick around for a long time.

  39. MK and all…

    Everything concerning your p.o.v. is well understood, but was it wise to do it right now was/is my issue.

    I see no wisdom in it whatsoever, despite Bruce’s foibles.

    But – like Bruce’s departure – it’s an academic issue now. No more to be said – on my part anyway.

  40. Oh, one more thing…

    Darren Fletcher’s comment about Bruce’s departure: ““The fans… the cabbage was disgraceful behaviour. All the players should feel responsible, it hasn’t just come down to that penalty kick.”

    Exactly my feeling. “All the players should feel responsible”. Once the game starts it’s essentially the players who determine what’s going to happen. Have they all played anything their part? I’d say a big ‘no’.

  41. JL- Well you have to ask yourself why that is don’t you? It all leads back to Bruce whatever way you look at it. I think they have got very comfy with there old pal Bruce.

    anyway great display of movement and quick passing from defence to attack by the U23’s so clinical 8-0

  42. JL- But JL mate it was sliding down hill and the relationship with the fans was well and truly messed up. It wasn’t getting better was it? it got to the point that I wasn’t sure what I was watching, many pundits were saying we have no shape or style? Bruce mates will defend him whatever but its up to him to motivate and ready the team.

  43. MK: “…it was sliding down hill”

    Well that’s how you see it. maybe.

    I didn’t read that to be the situation at all.

    The players are supposed to be men. They shouldn’t need that much motivating … and at 2-0 up it was not a bad position to climb further and turn the season around.

    But it’s the difference between those who look at matters as though the glass full and those that …

  44. Iana,

    Agreed…we aren’t composed enough on the ball which is why teams are always successful pressing us. This gets down to spacing, anticipation, and playing faster.

  45. I also think that’s why Grealish and McGinn are apt to carry the ball, Grealish sometimes for longer than he should. Move it into the final third without having to pass.

  46. JL- I’m a realist and right now I know my gin glass is full, no matter how happy I try to feel about Bruces glass I can see some big old cracks in it that leak. On top of that being pos or neg doesn’t change the position Bruce found himself in. Time and a new manager might shed some light on things, god knows we have a talented enough if unbalanced squad, see glass half full and half empty 😉

  47. I you can blame gollina delaet elphik for Bruce demise ,and not forget bree bedeau lansbury birr Hogan and countless others a real bad workman blames his tools not the one holding the tools

  48. I was thinking today how things change but are pretty much the same just viewed differently. When RDM got the push it was all about the players needing to be psychoanalysed, RDM being weak or Villa park needing an exorcism.

    Two years later Bruce’s one win in 9 is Rotherham and he gets the boot against PNE, spookily the same as RDM. Only I’m being told by pundits and JL its the players not the man in charge of everything? the same one that was brought in to correct the first mans gaffs but has created his own.

  49. Some cracking goals tonight for the under 23 wonder Will big boys step up tomorrow with same scintillating performance if it hasn’t been coached out of them

  50. I like the sound of him but would be a miracle I think to get him

    “Paulo Fonseca improved the squad despite not making any signings”

    “Against the odds, Paulo Fonseca ended up making the most out of the situation by improving on existing players. The likes of Dentinho, Facundo Ferreyra and Alan Patrick were all given a more significant role in the squad. Players that had stalled in their development like Bernard, Taison, Marlos and Fred saw their roles expanded.

    The likes of Facundo Ferreyra, Bernard, Taison, Marlos and Fred are now coveted by the big clubs from the big European leagues in Spain, Germany, Italy and England all as result of Fonseca’s coaching. But what has the Portuguese coach done differently from Lucescu?”

    http://futbolgrad.com/paulo-fonseca-coach-shakhtar/

  51. Mark
    “IanG- I heard someone say today that people are less intelligent but more morally certain today.” I’ve heard others with the same sentiment. What I find interesting about the statement (if true), is that for many decades now people in the west have turned away from organised religion (Christianity) in their millions, yet tend to be more moralistic, especially when judging others. Food for thought.

  52. Mark -, Peter Withe was national coach here in Thailand and took them to first place in the ASEAN championships 2000 and 2004 (Association of SE Asian Nations) – he went on to take Indonesia to 2nd place in 2006.

    Re the PNE analogy – they beat Villa 3 times to result in the sacking of the manager – Bruce and RDM have been mentioned but I am surprised the old man of Villa (JL) has not mentioned Tommy Cummings in 1968.

    I am torn between Fonseca – a proven winner but in a foreign league- and Henri – a foreigner but who knows the English traits and nuances. Foreign managers have come into the English game quite successfully recently and Fonseca given the right financial inducement might see that a successful couple of seasons in the Championship might lead to a job in the Premiership. Either is a gamble but what managerial appointment isn’t? He who pays the piper appoints him not me!

  53. Iana: “for many decades now people in the west have turned away from organised religion (Christianity) in their millions, yet tend to be more moralistic, especially when judging others. “

    A great spiritual teacher has said: “It is good to be born into a religion, but not to die living in that religion.”

    i.e. true religion is living it not under it.

  54. Clive: “Bruce and RDM have been mentioned but I am surprised the old man of Villa (JL) has not mentioned Tommy Cummings in 1968.”

    Perhaps because I didn’t join in the debate about that! 😉

    I was more upset about the immorality of Bruce’s sacking and fan power.

    Yes, it’s an interesting one that, as is the fact that the two first ‘double’ winners (PNE and Villa) both lost their Football League voting rights when they were both relegated to the third tier in 1970.

    Their historical connection seems to be fixed.

  55. Hi John L ,
    I’ve been reading some of your posts again to get a sense of what exactly your position is and if I am missing (or ignoring )some of your points. Obviously , I’m not a Bruce fan and felt he was the wrong appointment to begin with so I will have to concede negative bias on my behalf from the get go.

    I’m not so convinced he brought the stability to the club that you and a lot of others claim but I’ll also concede that point to save a lengthy trawl through statistics and their biased interpretation from both sides.

    It has been said in his defence that villa were only 1-2 goals from the premiership but any fair minded person who watched the promotion final would have to concede that Fulham were far superior to Villa in how they played football and were far more likely to survive in the premiership.

    You also say that Bruce’s sacking was immoral and he should have been given at least one more month . Now this time period seems arbitrary to me, but I’d like to know what you think he would have done different in that month , why do you think he would have done it , and finally what point yield from that month would you have realistically expected to prove all the nay sayers wrong .

    My suspicion is that your sense of fairness and general goodwill prevents you from ever allowing yourself to write off a person (in this case a football manager ) and I think your pleas for more time would have gone on ad infinitum to avoid making a decision which would cause another person distress.

    Your use of the term ‘immoral’ is very telling and i think your , almost solitary defence of Bruce , while admiral in the context of common consensus, comes from your heart and not your head.

  56. Iana- yes mate I grew up with Christian values, I have never been religious or felt I needed to be but it has given the west a good base as far as that goes. We have lost something and schools now push integration with Islam and downplay our country’s religion in case it upsets, crazy days.

    Clive- would love someone with proven coaching and tactical ability. We have players with potential I’d like to see them given the best chance to improve, Bruce was never that.

    I don’t think Bruce’s sacking was immoral, farcical and regretibly sordid at the end but he had his hand in it. He will walk away with his immoral wages though as they all do in football. But that’s the modern game tough but huge rewards monetarily speaking.

  57. Iana – Quote ‘What I find interesting about the statement (if true), is that for many decades now people in the west have turned away from organised religion (Christianity) in their millions, yet tend to be more moralistic, especially when judging others. Food for thought’

    I think people might have turned away from ‘organised religion’ because it is so prescriptive, plus there is the influence of social media proscribing a range of moral standards, a menu to choose from in fact.

    I was raised as a Catholic and ‘sent’ to a Catholic boarding school where is witnessed and experienced priests’ attention to the pupils (non-penetrative I should add). This led to my departure from organised religion as soon as I was able to escape the parental dominance.

    My moral code now is that I do not do anything that I or anyone else should feel uncomfortable with and live my life within my own conscience. I suppose I am one who does not follow a religion because that is what my parents do or my society dictates as many young people are forced to do. I asked my Thai wife why she was Buddhist and it is because her parents were.; there is no considered choice.

    Maybe something to discuss sensibly while we await the news?

  58. Prox,

    I hear what you say – but everyone seems to have forgotten (or put aside) what happened to the club between 2010 and 2016! 🙁

    In the light of that – and mainly that – I took on Bruce’s arrival stoically and still stick by that because I believed he was just the right person for the club right then. Not one I would have chosen (I’ve said that before!) but according to the circumstances of the club.

    And, as a corollary to that, I do believe firmly that he should have been given the time until end of October to show whether he could produce the goods from his mainly new squad.

    The fans pushed it to a different conclusion (not aided by Bruce’s comments of course, which though not wrong in my view were words expressing his sense of frustration).

    I just believe in fairness and give it when it’s due.

  59. MK: “We have lost something and schools now push integration with Islam and downplay our country’s religion in case it upsets, crazy days.”

    I think we’re forgetting that all religions are mis-expressions of what the founder intended, Jesus and Muhamed alike.

    Though Christianity that we’ve come to know has it’s good elements, it does not teach what the good Lord taught, and nor are we taught the true history of Jesus, nor Muhammed come to that.

    I’m working on deep research into this very topic – in fact it’s the outcome of 40 years study. The outcome might shock. I will let you know when it’s available to be looked at.

  60. John ,
    Its very evident from your post’s that you believe in fairness but I think you’ve strayed from fairness into risk aversion which is understandable given what happened earlier in this decade .Please leave aside the fans , the Bruce comments , etc etc and just look at the Aston Villa product on the field …. and now look over at Wolverhampton , Bournemouth ,Brighton ,Watford , etc. Villans dont want to be Real Madrid , we just want our team to play enjoyable competitive football against our peer teams rather than the turgid , fearful , haphazard style that Bruce has presided over for two years .

    On the religion thing , I’m an avowed aethist so i will concede the floor to you learned gentlemen.

  61. I have enjoyed reading through all the comments, expressing a fairly solid belief that the time was right for Bruce to go, and I have given my opinion earlier, as to why I think it was right, although I would have been happier if Thierry Henri had come at the beginning of the season, along with the new owners, and by now Villa would be a force to be reckoned with in the Championship.

    It didn’t happen, and I am sure that Edens and Sawiris are regretting that they did not make the move they wanted to straight away. If they had, I am sure that we would have De Laet and Elphick playing regularly, and the defence would have been much more solid. Grealish would have benefited so much from Thierry’s guidance and the mid field would have shaped up to provide the link up to his choice of strikers.

    Henri will now have the problem of sorting out a solid defence until January, but I am sure that Bree and Tuanzebe will step up to the plate. It is exciting times ahead, and I am sure now that the odds on Henri taking over(now at 8/11 with all bookmakers) are basically so close, that we will see him at the Den later today.

  62. Prox,

    I’ve always understood that argument! … What min primary concern in 2016 was the stability of the club and hence why I was reasonably happy for Bruce to come in.

    The way I saw it is that RdiM wanted to go the way you describe but didn’t have a clue as to how to get the thing properly rolling.

    In other words without the right attitude in place all the best planning, coaching and everything else would have very little effect i.m.o. Bruce – in contrast – knew how to get the attitude changed, and did. But he lacked in various ways that you’ve suggested.

    Would he have got promotion this season? Yes, I think he stood a good a chance as any.

    Would he have been the man to carry us through into Prem stability and then progress, the answer is probably ‘no’.

    As I said, I/we are not the people who select the manager, but while he was here Bruce (i.m.o.) deserved to stay and get us through the first objective – promotion. We are still in very close contention, but now this has happened whether we’ll slip before we pick up again is now debatable. And if we slip too much, who will be held to blame then?

  63. JL- I would like to see what your conclusions are John look forward to it. I just feel its a shame now the west has shied away from its Christian roots that it hasn’t tried to replace it with philosophy and reason but trivia and populism.

    There are many modern day philosophers on the likes of youtube though that might save the day, people are taking notice with viewing figures growing. whether it will avert the coming storm that the far left is creating I don’t know, labelling everything other than themselves fascist will surely create their worst nightmare, people need to push back because society has become very intolerant of free speech I feel. Just as the fight against communism created an opening for the Nazi’s in Germany pre-war I feel a balance must be found. Otherwise its time for a bunker in the Caribbean for me.

  64. JL- As far as blame then Bruce like RDM will shoulder his part I’m sure or we are drifting into double standards, RDM should of got to Xmas too as the situation was not dissimilar but we all know now that money/promotion was the driver. As far as the squad is concerned? only 2 youngsters have shown public dismay to my Knowledge one a loanee that doesn’t point to a united dressing room to me.

  65. Teams up Hutton captain

    Aston Villa: Nyland, Hutton, Bree, Tuanzebe, Taylor, Elmohamady, Bjarnason, Hourihane, McGinn, Grealish, Abraham

    Subs: Bunn, Whelan, Lansbury, Adomah, Bolasie, Hogan, Kodjia

  66. MK: “RDM should of got to Xmas too as the situation was not dissimilar “

    It’s on issues like this we are going to disagree very often!

    My view is that RdiM did not have much of a clue as to how to *manage* (as opposed to coaching). Hence the situation in the dressing room needed de-toxifying and no wait till December was going to help for a situation that (in my view) would not have got remedied if RdiM had stayed.

    But – hey – that’s just my view.

  67. JL- It may be Valid mate but RDM got rid of many of the trouble makers/ unhappy players Guzan, Lescott, okore, Vertout, gil, and many more, Gabby and Richards sidelined. I think there was to much to sort in one window. His problem was conceding late goals not scoring late ones to draw though, very fine margins in a lot of matches, if Bruce was unlucky then RDM was doubly so considering the chances created and woodwork hit 8 times in 11 games, most which resulted in 1-1 draws.

    I do think the players added in Jan compounded things rather than solved them entirely too as I know/was told that were still problems in summer 2017.

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