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Aston Villa

Why Steve Bruce is the right man for Aston Villa



Steve Bruce was named as the new manager of Aston Villa Football Club earlier this week, signing on a two-year deal. This is Villa’s second manager of the season, with Roberto Di Matteo sacked recently after a poor run of form, that saw the side sitting in 19th with only one win to their name. The position that Aston Villa are currently in is shocking to both the team’s fans and pundits alike, who prophesied the League founders to be in or around the upper echelons of the table.

However, there is a lot of time left in the season and everything could change under the regime of Bruce, who holds an impressive four Championship promotions to his name. The former Hull City will be vying for a fifth within his two-year reign at the club, providing he remains in charge for that time as he is currently the teams third manager this year alone.

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The acquisition of Bruce has come with mixed emotions from the fans, some of whom are not willing to forgive the former Manchester United midfielders affiliations with the sides fierce rivals Birmingham City. Others are willing to give him a chance and will be hoping that he returns their side back to winning ways.

Roberto Di Matteo had a win ratio of 8.33% during his time at the helm of the Villans, which is surprisingly close to Remi Garde’s 13.04% – considering the Frenchman managed for nearly 12 games more than him. During his games in charge of Hull, Bruce had an impressive win ratio of 41.29%, more than any other Aston Villa manager since Martin O’Neill who left the club six years ago.

Rather than the manager, it seems the players have something instilled in them that is keeping them from the top half of the league, however with the arrival of a bounty of new talent during the summer, their losing ways should have changed somewhat. Perhaps the arrival of Bruce will usher in some well needed fierceness in the backroom of Villa Park.

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The first game that Bruce will take control of is against Wolverhampton Wanderers, who like Aston Villa, should perhaps be performing a little better considering the amount of fresh talent they recruited. Fans will be excited to see if the introduction of a new leader will bring winning ways back to the claret and blue side of Birmingham. However, the process will be a long and arduous task and it is likely that his first game will be a tricky one – especially due to the Midlands rivalry.

In terms of his management, Bruce will be used to the type of players he has at his disposal at Bodymoor Heath and should be able to extract something special from them. Something he will not be used to however is the sizeable transfer kitty at his disposal come January, and it will be interesting to see how he handles himself within the transfer market.

Aston Villa’s social media loving owner, Dr Tony Xia offered his thoughts on the arrival of Bruce: “With Steve’s track record, not only at leading teams to promotion from the Championship but also vast experience in the Premier League, I believe we have secured the services of an excellent manager.”

It seems as if experience is something Villa focused on within their recruitment of players this season and they certainly have one of the most experienced managers at their disposal now. Bruce was linked closely with the England job both before Sam Allardyce’s arrival and again after his subsequent departure, and regardless of his links with the Blue side of Birmingham and any other gripes that fans may have with him, he should provide a stabilising ethos.

It is uncertain and rather unlikely at the moment whether he will manage to push towards promotion this season, however if he provides Dr Tony Xia with an acceptable finish and is given time and patience within his two-year tenure, he should be able to thrust Aston Villa back into the Premier League.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa want Stephane Bahoken, who had woeful St Mirren loan in 2013-14

Aston Villa and a heap of other teams want the Cameroon international this summer.



Aston Villa are said to be one of four English teams chasing the Strasbourg striker Stephane Bahoken this summer. France Football says Villa are keen, along with Swansea and Stoke City. The Express also mention Brighton, stating the Seagulls are frontrunners for the player.

Aston Villa’s interest will not be a surprise to many. They were heavily linked with Bahoken’s signature in January as well. SFR reported in the winter that Aston Villa wanted to bring him in on loan until the end of the season. Strasbourg refused but with his contract expiring this summer Aston Villa look set to return.

(Photo credit should read PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

But something that is not being spoken about from the player’s past is his loan spell at Scottish side St Mirren.

Bahoken joined the Paisley side on loan from former club Nice in the summer of 2013. It should have been an exciting experience for the club and the player, but it was anything but.

Bahoken played four times for the club before the deal was cancelled in December. After a month in which another loan move failed to be ratified he headed back to the Scottish Premiership side. But, he did not play another game for the club. Four games, zero goals. It was a disaster for the Cameroonian striker.

Such a disastrous stint north of the border must be something Aston Villa and any other interested party will be concerned about.

(Photo credit should read XAVIER LEOTY/AFP/Getty Images)

He himself even admitted to being like a ‘spoilt kid’ at the club when talking to the Daily Record. He vowed to become a man.

It would be fair to say Bahoken has come a long way since his disastrous loan in Scotland.

After leaving Nice for Strasbourg in 2014 he quickly became very important for the team. This season he has scored seven goals in 23 games and his displays even earned him a first call-up to the Cameroon national team this year.

Aston Villa know that his signature would be a risk, based on his St Mirren disaster and rather muted goal record.

But seeing as he is a free transfer, it might be worth rolling the dice.

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Lovre Kalinic best keeper in Belgium, two years after red tape scuppered Aston Villa move

The Croatian has been in fine form since his move to KAA Gent.



Back in January 2016, it looked like Aston Villa had found themselves a new goalkeeper. It looked like Croatian stopper Lovre Kalinic was on his way to join Villa – who at the time seemed doomed to relegation from the Premier League. The giant goalkeeper had been in talks with Villa for some time and the Daily Mail reported that a £4.9 million fee had been agreed between Villa and his club, Hajduk Split.

It soon emerged however that Kalinic would not be making the move. As reported by Index Kalinic did not have the requisite qualifications to be eligible for a work permit to play football in the UK. He had not fulfilled the quota of playing 75 percent of games for Croatia in the past two years – playing just once.

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That summer Aston Villa signed Italian Pierluigi Gollini, whilst Kalinic remained in Croatia until the following January. In the winter window of 2017, the goalie headed to Belgium, joining KAA Gent for a club record fee.

To say his move has been a success would be an understatement. Kalinic has been in fine form for the Belgian side. Despite playing just half of last season he was named the Goalkeeper of the Season in Belgium. He has just received the same accolade for the current campaign.

Aston Villa eventually did find a new goalkeeper, with Sam Johnstone arriving on loan from Manchester United.

But with his deal expiring at the end of the season, and Villa chasing promotion, should they return for Kalinic two years down the line?

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images,)

The 28-year-old is clearly good enough to make the step to English football and at one point was very excited to head to Villa Park.

He has played much more regularly for the Croatian national team and is now in a genuine battle with Monaco’s Danijel Subasic to be number one at this summer’s World Cup. If Kalinic can get the nod there, then a work permit will no longer be an issue.

With Johnstone only on loan, Aston Villa need to consider the fact they might need to find a different keeper in the summer. Two years ago they found the perfect man for the job in the form of the 6ft 5ins goalie but red tape stopped his arrival.

This summer they should surely consider going for Kalinic once again.

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Ritchie De Laet has now been dropped by his loan club

The Aston Villa defender is now struggling for football at Antwerp.



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When Aston Villa started to make wholesale improvements to the squad in the summer of 2016 they went on a spending spree bringing in talent good enough for the Premier League. One man they snapped up was even a Premier League winner the season before.

Ritchie De Laet was snapped up in the summer of 2016 after a season in which he won both the Premier League with Leicester City and promotion with Middlesbrough whilst on loan.

Considering he had also won promotion with Leicester in 2014, he looked the perfect addition to the Aston Villa fold.

Unfortunately, that has not proved to be the case.

The Belgian defender, who cost a fee reported by The Sun to be in the region of £2.5 million, was earmarked as the solution to Villa’s problem position of right-back.

However, De Laet never managed to have any sustained impact at Villa. He played just three times in his first season at the club before picking up a knee injury against Brentford. He was subsequently ruled out for the rest of the season.

This term he managed to feature sporadically through the first-half of the season but in January found himself out of contention. The 29-year-old was therefore sent out on loan to his boyhood club Royal Antwerp until the end of the season.

He immediately went into the starting XI for the Belgian side but has recently been dropped for the Europa League play-off fixtures.

It comes after a switch to 3-5-2 from his loan club, who have preferred to play Benfica loanee Aurelio Buta at right wing-back ahead of De Laet.

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This will certainly not have been the plan for De Laet, who will have hoped to have found his best form again in Belgium. However, it has not been that straightforward and he now finds himself on the bench.

This summer will be interesting for De Laet. It certainly does not seem as though Steve Bruce sees him as an Aston Villa player in the future. If the Villans can also capture promotion, it is expected new faces will arrive to push De Laet even further down the pecking order.

Thriving out on loan might have changed the mind of a few figures at Villa Park.

But seeing as he is not even an immediate starter with Antwerp, Aston Villa will likely consider him dispensable in the summer.

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