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Is Steve Bruce still the man to turn Aston Villa around?

Calum Pettitt

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Steve Bruce

Following Aston Villa’s 2-1 defeat at last season’s playoff finalists Reading, Steve Bruce was clear in his message. The former Manchester United man felt that his side had been unlucky and that if he was given time that he could turn the midlands club around.

However, it is the opinion of many Villa fans that Bruce, who in 10 months into his tenure, has already had enough time to solve the issues plaguing the club and that it is time for him to move on. This came to a head with the jeering from some of the 4,000 travelling fans in Berkshire on Tuesday night.

On paper, Villa have an enviable set up. They have an expensive and talented playing squad, a manager with a proven track record of achieving promotion to the top flight, Premier League standard training facilities and a large, committed set of supporters. Unfortunately for Aston Villa, and as simple as it may sound, you don’t win anything on paper.

Perhaps the biggest issue that is facing Steve Bruce is his side’s woeful away form. The Midlands club have won just four of their last 43 away league games – keeping a clean sheet in just three of their last 21.

Villa were thumped 3-0 by Cardiff in their opening league away game of the season and then were defeated 2-1 by Reading at the Madejski Stadium. The score against the latter may sound more promising but the Midlands club’s performance was anything but.

Reading controlled large portions of the game and, while Bruce may be right in saying that it would have been a different game if youngster Andre Green had finished his golden chance to put Villa ahead in the first half, anything other than a Reading win would have been unrepresentative of the game as a whole.

The frustration of the Villa fanbase is likely to be amplified by the fact that both Birmingham City and Wolves have started their campaigns in a far more positive fashion than their old rivals.

Wolves are currently unbeaten at this early point of the season and Birmingham rivals have far more reasons to be positive this year after a dismal campaign last time out. Villa appear to be struggling with the same old problems that the club have encountered over the last few seasons.

Many will feel that the club needs a complete overhaul. Many of the squad will be on huge wages having played for the team during their time in the Premier League and are currently not showing their worth on the pitch.

The likes of Micah Richards, Gabby Agbonlahor and Alan Hutton are individuals that some Villa fans would be happy to see the back of, with young, hungry players, who are desperate to prove themselves in the Championship, waiting in the wings to replace them.

In defence of Steve Bruce, he has a fantastic record of getting clubs promoted into the Premier League. He achieved the feat twice with Villa’s fierce rivals Birmingham City before, once again, repeating the trick twice with Hull City. The former Manchester United captain also has experienced managing in the top flight, albeit with mixed success.

However, Bruce has made some odd decisions, including stripping James Chester of the captaincy in favour of new signing John Terry. Chester looks to be struggling for form as a result and the former Chelsea man Terry has so far failed to inspire what is shaky as they have conceded six goals in their opening three league games and have no clean sheets in all competitions.

At this early point of the season it is likely that some fans will be saying that it is too soon for a manager to be getting sacked. While we may only be three league games into the season, Bruce has been given, at least in the current footballing climate, plenty of time to turn Villa around.

The former Manchester United man has spent millions of pounds adding 14 new faces over two transfer windows and has still failed to instil any belief from the fans or see any positive progression on the pitch.

This may sound like a damning verdict but you can understand the frustrations of Villa fans when they are seeing other Championship clubs employ managers and see quick success on far less funding.

While money doesn’t necessarily ensure success, you would expect a manager working with war chest to find it easier than working on a shoestring budget. While Steve Bruce has a solid record managing in the Championship, which is notoriously tough league to get out of, success at one club does not guarantee success at another.

Calum is a Reading fan and has been a season ticket holder for many years. He is currently studying for a degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa fans react as Mile Jedinak shows the character needed next season

Aston Villa’s midfielder slotted home a pressure penalty v Denmark.

Mathew Nash

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Australia picked up a well-earned draw against Denmark in the World Cup earlier today, even if it did come with some controversy. Christian Eriksen smashed the Danes into the lead but, after a VAR review, Yussuf Poulsen was judged to have handled the ball from a corner. It gave Australia a penalty and Aston Villa midfielder Mile Jedinak stepped up to the plate.

He scored against France in their opening fixture and, despite the best efforts of Leicester City stopper Kasper Schmeichel to get in his head, he coolly slotted home.

It was a pressure penalty, but Aston Villa’s midfielder showed no signs of missing. He played well throughout the game, acting as the calming influence in the heart of Australia’s midfield.

(Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

The Australian has had to work hard to win over the fans at Villa Park since his arrival. Many felt they were getting a player in decline and he put in some laborious performances during the early stages of his Villa career.

However, next season he could prove vital. With Villa struggling financially some big players will be on their way out and characters will be needed to take Aston Villa up the Championship table.

Just as Iceland’s Birkir Bjarnason showed against Argentina in Russia, Aston Villa have a player in Jedinak who is clearly up for the fight.

Fans of Aston Villa were very happy to see the bearded midfielder score his second goal of the tournament. Many joked about his valuation, golden boot chances and whether he is in fact the GOAT, not Cristiano Ronaldo.

But in terms of his character, this performance highlighted exactly why Jedinak can be key for Aston Villa next season…

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Could £5m forgotten man Aaron Tshibola play a role in Aston Villa rebuild?

The midfielder has struggled since joining Aston Villa two years ago.

Mathew Nash

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It looks like being a tough summer at Aston Villa. After failing to win promotion to the Premier League the club are now believed to be in serious financial peril after over-spending from chairman Tony Xia. It is therefore likely that Aston Villa will need to move a number of players on this summer. Whilst it is bad news for the club, it is also a chance some of the fringe players at Aston Villa must take. One such player is Aaron Tshibola.

Signed in the summer of 2016 from Reading the DR Congo international cost a figure in the region of £5 million – according to the Reading Post.

It was an investment for the future which, so far, has not paid off.

(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The 23-year-old was a favourite of Roberto Di Matteo’s but was soon dropped after Steve Bruce’s arrival. Subsequent loan spells at Nottingham Forest and MK Dons came with mixed success.

But he spent the second part of last season on loan in Scotland with Kilmarnock. Working under his former Reading boss and Aston Villa assistant Steve Clarke he had a strong start before fading out slightly before the end of his deal.

Aston Villa should, however, give him a chance next season if he sticks around. The club could find themselves short in midfield if several top players make a move and Tshibola is a player who once looked a future Championship star.

In a summer where Villa cannot make many signings, the DR Congo star could be like a £5 million newbie.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa could reportedly owe John Terry £560,000 in wages

The owner may have to sell shares in the club.

Jamie Watts

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Aston Villa’s financial mess looks likely to continue, as the cash-strapped club could now owe captain John Terry a whopping £560,000 in wages, unless he transfers to a different club this summer, according to reports from the Times.

Villa are said to have reached an agreement with HMRC to postpone a payment of £4 million last week, but a further payment is expected this week and the club owner Tony Xia may have to go as far as to sell shares in the club to ensure all debts are paid.

The ex-Chelsea legend announced his impending departure from the midlands club last month, after they failed to secure Premier League promotion in the play-offs and his current contract is due to expire at the end of the month. But he is said to be entitled to a further month’s pay.

Photo: Getty Images

His weekly-wage packet was said to be worth £70,000 at Villa Park, meaning the overdue payments from the last two-months add up to over half-a-million for the 37-year-old defender. However, the outstanding July payment will only stand if Terry retires or remains a free-agent, meaning Villa will be keen to land him a new club.

Villa reportedly need £40 million in order to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations (Birmingham Mail), after gambling that they would gain promotion to the Premier League this season.

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