Is Steve Bruce the right manager for us?

It seems this is a question that particularly divides Villa fans and it has caused some robust debate on here.
Thanks for keeping it mostly very civil, by the way.

No doubt it’s been the same on other sites, but is it true that this debate has caused physical fights amongst us?
If so, that’s ridiculous to my mind, but hey it’s all part of footy, I suppose.

I just wanted to give my take, with as balanced a view as I can, so I can gauge the responses.
Ok, I don’t get to the games very much these days, but I still like to think I have my finger at least partly on the pulse.

Here goes;

It’s a fact that Steve Bruce has the best record of getting teams promoted from the Championship to the Premier league. That is beyond debate.
And to me, it’s a big plus, as he knows how this league works, especially when it boils down to the last few games, where the team that achieves a last-minute good run-in, might do better than otherwise expected.
My money says we’re at least capable of that, as much as it might not seem like it at the moment.
We have the manager who’s seen it more than most, simple.

The counter to that is that Warnock has a good record too and has Cardiff consistently winning games.
So much so, that it’s hard to see them losing any.

The biggest complaint about Bruce seems to be about his football.
While I’d definitely agree that it was dire at times, particularly earlier in the season, is it really fair to say that about the last ten games or so?
I don’t think so and I’d say we’ve aimed to get the win in every game.
The performances at times might not have matched the ambition, but again, that’s footy.

I hasten to add that it seems some fans just detest Bruce because of his links to Blues.
I just won’t entertain that as a reason for disliking him and frankly find it quite pathetic.

Then there’s the tactics.
I’ll happily admit that sometimes, Bruce’s decisions baffle me.
But he’s got the results, mostly and I wouldn’t profess to know better than him.

I guess what I’m asking is would any other manager really have done any better?
I go back to Warnock again, who’s done really well.
Given we have the best squad on paper, would he have made them perform better?
I really don’t know.
Cardiff have a squad performing above their level, whereas we have supposedly “better” players that need motivating in a different way. I can’t call it.

The next question has to be would you stick with Bruce, regardless of if we get promoted or not?
This is the difficult one.

I know some of you will say if we don’t get promoted, he has to go.
But then what?
We join the manager-go-round again?
Is that really the way to go?
I’m not convinced.

My opinion says that even if you don’t like Bruce, he has at least stabilised the club. We aren’t in freefall anymore and are looking upwards.

Of course, you’d be well within your rights to say that given the money spent, we bloody well should be.
To which I’d say we spent proper money during our decline from the Prem.
The point is, money guarantees nothing.

Look, this is not a defence of Steve Bruce.
I find it hard to get past some of the utter rubbish footy I’ve seen under him, with supposedly superior players.
But looking back, I can see the reasons, in that he had to settle the side.
I believe he’s done that to good effect.
And it’s why I’d give him 10 games in the Prem, if we were to be promoted.

And even if we don’t get promoted, I’m wondering who we’d get in, instead?

Whatever you think, please keep your replies civil.

Cheers and UTV!!


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  1. david hopkins March 19, 2018 at 11:20 pm .

    some very good points have been raised

    personally i do not like bruce, not because of his blues past, but because of his style of football and limitations tactically. he is unable to change tactics during games, after other managers figure out plan A. there is no plan B..and plan A is not rocket science at all.

    As mentioned he has stabilised the club and seemly the team, so i give him credit there. for all of his experience at this level, he still makes dyer mistakes the last two games as an example….he simply should not being making those kind of mistakes, especially at this stage of the season. his team selection, subs bench and in game subs are very questionable, a novice manager or a new manager to the club fair enough, but for one of his experience should not be happening i feel.

    as for the prem, if we ever go up. i would not like steve bruce as manager AT ALL….he can just about get away with the tactics and team selection at this level with more talented players, at prem level as the past has shown, he is simply not good enough. thats not to say i have all the answers as to who we should get in, but bruce is not the answer.

  2. DSVilla March 19, 2018 at 11:44 pm .

    Nope. I don’t really believe he will get us promoted. I said we might do it through the play offs but it’s a lottery. I think we will come up short. I would fire him either way. If we did get promoted, i would be thankful, but 10 games in the Prem would see us adrift, firing him, getting a manager in with no control over transfers and no pre-season plus transfers. It’s getting tougher every year to get up and to stay up. Failing to get promotion with this squad is simply failure. Bruce is the wrong choice for both aspects.

    Just my opinion with no abuse!

  3. pat 57 March 20, 2018 at 12:02 am .

    I’ve supported Bruce throughout most of his time at the Villa and I’ve got it in the neck from the trolls for doing so.

    However even they have to admit that we’re in a far better place than we were before Bruce came. We all genuinely feared that we’d be in Sunderland’s position, in total free fall and disappearing into the 3rd division.

    The reason that hasn’t happened is because Bruce stopped the rot and the rot was extensive. if they were truly honest even the trolls would have given their right arms for a play off spot when this season kicked off. Fans being peeved that we’re not in an automatic spot is clear evidence of his success.

    However if we fail to get promotion this season I think we will need a Plan B and i wouldn’t be against appointing a new manager. We’ll be in a much better position to get someone of Premier League quality after Bruce.

    Whatever happens I think we’ll end up owing Bruce a debt of gratitude.

  4. Hitchens60 March 20, 2018 at 12:03 am .

    First off – I don’t care a toss who SB managed previously; I didn’t hear any complaints or slagging off for Sir Ron when he went to Baggies and Blues after the Villa.

    At the time he was appointed I believe he was the only sensible option open to us and he undoubtedly righted a fast sinking ship. Make no mistake we could have endured back to back relegations. Fact – he did not cause the financial mess we are in (re: FFP) and hascbeen pretty shrewd in his transfer dealings given he’s had both hands tied behind his back.

    Like Badger, I’ve despaired at times over our performances and been baffled by tactical decisions as a fan – not from any managerial experience.

    As to the future – well until the fat lady sings what’s the point of speculating. I certainly don’t subscribe to the ‘if thishappens theory’ because whether promoted or not there are those who would cry ‘off with his head’!

  5. Villain1 March 20, 2018 at 8:03 am .

    It’s all about perspective – when your starting at a huge advantage to nearly the whole league (Wolves aside) then finishing in the play offs to me is an average to below average job. People seem to lose the fact were paying the likes of Terry 60k a week in the championship- Bruce was brought in to get us promoted this season full well knowing we are going to have to cut back massively due to FFP next year if we don’t go up. If he fails to deliver that promotion, there is no way he should stay. Its very black and white to me.
    Having said that even if we do win the play offs I wouldn’t want Bruce anywhere near the PL – his last few years in the top league were poor. Its a telling sign that the old style British managers like Pardew, Hodgson, Allardyce are struggling now at the top level – they are outdated dinosaurs and Bruce fits in that mould.

    1. Hitchens60 March 20, 2018 at 9:03 am .

      I take your point that the game is changing but your examples don’t really support your arguement. Allardyce and Hodgson both walked into poor performing clubs on the slide or in relegation trouble and have done a decent job – on the other hand a number of the new young and / or foreign managers have struggled in both the Prem and Championship.

      I’m not saying you’re wrong about Bruce but that it’s easy to be selective with a supporting arguement – I don’t really get the generalisation that old and experienced = past it.

      The fact is, outside a few well known names (who aren’t going to be coming to the Villa) appoinment of any manager – particularly a young and untried one or foreign one without experience in England – is a gamble.

      As I said previously I’m reserving my judgement until the end of the season.

  6. B6 March 20, 2018 at 12:22 pm .

    How ironic that so far 50% of the posts on this particular thread have said they don’t want Bruce yet between them they can’t come up with an alternative name on who they’d want.

    The other 50% have looked at the bigger picture and not just what has happened on the pitch.

    1. Andrew March 20, 2018 at 11:09 pm .

      So many people have come up with alternative names of manager’s they want it’s pointless to continue going through name after name again and again.

      1. B6 March 21, 2018 at 9:13 am .

        So many people have come up with alternative names? Andrew you know as well as I do that is so far from the truth you’d struggle to find a map that goes there!

        You have come out with a few names, you alone. That’s hardly “so many people” is it?

        1. Andrew March 21, 2018 at 3:54 pm .

          That’s fair enough.

  7. Rocky1 March 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm .

    I see no reason to change it as the up evil would be counter productive, yes if we do get promoted then who’s to say Bruce would want to manage us in the Premier league? He may have been bought in to do a specific job and if he fails then he may decide to go anyway?
    We where going one way and he has managed to steady the ship, but with all the crap we have had to endure over the last 10 years or so there is improvement and he has managed to stabilise us. We are not going to win every game which would be nice, but we have to move on and get over the fact that when we lose it is not just down to the manager so change it.
    I would love to know who would come in and make an immediate impact for the long term vision of the club, as the managers job at Villa is seen as a poison chalice for who ever it would be.
    Forget our History that has gone, as AVFC we do not have a god forsaken right to beat every team before us. Learn to accept defeat as no team is unbeatable. Believe me other than the financial gains the PL is not the holy grail of football and we will just make up the numbers.
    Remember Huddersfield last year they take the Championship by storm and are fighting to stay in the EPL, do we really want that again. Your sole gain is to get to 40 points……..great bring it on!!

    1. B6 March 20, 2018 at 7:47 pm .

      Brilliant post Rocky1. Absolutely spot on.

      1. Hitchens60 March 20, 2018 at 8:33 pm .

        Rocky – your point about the financial lure of the PL is well made. The one common point made by pretty much every post around promotion is money – not the challenge of playing top sides, not the quality of football but money.

        That pretty much says everything you need to know about the modern game.

  8. Bill Pearson March 20, 2018 at 12:37 pm .

    No two ways about it been a funny state of affairs with Bruce one minute we’re down and out, next minute we’re on cloud nine, I’ve had to question some decisions and making me think does he know what he’s doing. I honestly think he’s guessing on some games , and that put the lid on it that last game we played. I wasn’t happy with Thor playing should have been Jedi, he plays a right back on the left, strong legs was needed that match.please remember this is only my opinion but it puts doubt on my mind about his capabilities. Bruce is like marmite, you either like him or don’t, would he be good in the premiership? He certainly confuse other teams.

    1. Hitchens60 March 20, 2018 at 3:32 pm .

      Bill – I agree about the Bolton selections but it was the knock on effect of making bad selection decisions for the QPR game where Thor should gave played and Jedi rested.

      1. Hitchens60 March 20, 2018 at 8:40 pm .

        Bill – in the debate about team selection for QPR etc., one name has not been mentioned – Glen Whelan. It occurs to me that if Whelan had been fit Bruce would have selected him for the QPR game and rested Jedi without a seconds hesitation.

        Question: what does that say about Bruce’s view of Bjarnasson and are we missing Whelan more than most fans would care to admit?

        1. badger123 March 20, 2018 at 10:50 pm .

          Good question, that.
          My take is that Bjarnasson wants out, as was suggested in the winter window.
          My opinion also says Bruce will play Whelan as much as possible.
          It’s probably not contracted, but part of a verbal agreement, along with other players (Terry springs to mind).

  9. owen March 20, 2018 at 2:01 pm .

    Bruce reckons 6 wins from last 8 will get 2nd place, Cardiff have some tough fixtures and fixture congestion as well. Fulham have to have a bad run, think it will be now, blew it against QPR. We have a big rest, Kodjia back fit and then we beat Hull and start another big winning run. Been told I was clueless when we were out of the playoffs after the brentford game and everyone was crying. We stormed to 2nd place. Our form since then has been 10 wins, 1 draw, 3 defeats, pretty good. If we can match that ration in last 8 we will be in with a chance. Don’t bet against Bruce and his boys yet.

    1. Bill Pearson March 20, 2018 at 4:32 pm .

      I’m not in a sense, he’s defiantly a man manager that’s for sure, its that a golden opportunity gone with two bottom team that we should have won or drawn with.
      I don’t think that Bruce is in close discussion with our second string , they have done marvellous over the few years winning the league being near the top yet we don’t get to play them u ntill we shout out. I’ll go along till its obvious he got to stay or has to go.

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