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!!

58 Comments

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  1. Holte66 March 20, 2018 at 5:52 pm .

    Oh to have a crystal ball or a DeLorean to see what the future would bring under Bruce. The international break usually comes at a bad time for us but In this case I think it is a good thing as long as players on international duty come back fit. Also we might get Hutton or Taylor fit. We still have an outside chance of automatic place with Cardiff now having a congested fixture list. Having said that playing Hull away won’t be easy as they would love to get one over Bruce. I’ve already said that unless we totally fall out of play offs I would prefer Bruce to stay to offer us the stability we have been yearning for since O’Neill. At the moment there isn’t an available manager who I would want.

  2. nath March 20, 2018 at 6:33 pm .

    all managers get tactics wrong in some games. they are not alone in a room when they decide on tactics. they have coaches and scouts on up coming fixtures. tactics are decided together they bounce off each others ideas on how to approach each up coming game, its a bloody team effort like the players. football isn’t about one player with all the skill like grealish is a team sport.

    bruce has done really good or his management has done really good. could we have done better with bruces squad off course we could, but we could also have done alot worse.

    with the last few games left we are within touching distance of the autos. almost guaranteed a playoffs. fans mention the team performances earlier this season, compared to recently the team have grown together. its nothing to do with coaching its more to do with players getting a feeling for each other and tactics. relationships on the field don’t just happen over pre season or a couple of games.

    bruce has to be the right man for the job, because he has the job to do, we should back him until the owners dispense with him. if he does ever leave anytime soon, he leaves a club better organized than the shmables he found us in.

    1. nath March 20, 2018 at 6:35 pm .

      and just to clarify i don’t love bruce or think hes a great manager. i think hes doing a fine job at the moment. if he wins promotion are we seriously gonna start questioning him.

      1. Bum Bum March 21, 2018 at 6:55 pm .

        You’d like to give Bruce a kiss.

        1. nath March 22, 2018 at 6:50 am .

          bumbum you promised it was a sercret

  3. nath March 20, 2018 at 9:10 pm .

    its funny when you see bruce getting stick for playing thor against bolton. all the fans before the game and every game i remember. say play thor he can do no wrong. blar blar. but when he had a bad game he is the first one they pick out and blame bruce. but like hitch said whelen would have played against rangers had he been fit and jedi would have played against bolton.

    nice to see even murphy getting loads of criticism. probably the reason why bruce is over protecting the not so quite ready youth. i thought he did well on his short role. but what the fook i know. he found good space twice in the box and that is a good trait. works on the swivelling and shooting.

  4. Andrew March 21, 2018 at 3:53 pm .

    Have been and will continue to be in the Bruce out brigade. If we somehow manage to get top 2, then that’s pretty much solely down to Cardiff bombing it. Sure, they have a tight schedule, but they beat Wolves away earlier in the season and they’ve beaten us already. This season hasn’t been good enough with the squad and money spent. And yes, I know, Bruce isn’t 100% at fault for the money spent, but for someone with 20 years experience and being the “best Championship manager ever”, he should’ve been able to handle it better. We hadn’t become an attack minded side until Agnew came and we stopped long balling it to Hogan and no longer play to not lose and actually are trying now. If we go up, he’s not good enough. If we don’t go up, he should 100% be seen as a failure and sacked. Not that I expect either of those too happen.

    We don’t need to be part of a manager merry-go-round. Because the types of managers other Championship sides will be looking at, we shouldn’t be. No, no one’s expecting Pep, no one thinks we’re Manchester City. But if Wolves and Fulham can find talented managers, why shouldn’t we be able too ourselves? Was funny as I had a few arguments at the start of the season Wolves would be the foreign whipping boys and they’ve shown that not too be true. We need to get out of this mindset that experience means something, the big clubs in England have proven it doesn’t.

    1. Hitchens60 March 21, 2018 at 4:06 pm .

      What I find interesting about your post Andrew is that, by omission, you don’t think Warnock is a ‘talented manager’. In fact I would say that if he gets Cardiff over the line then with the squad he has he’s arguably more talented than either the Wolves or Fulham managers.

      I only say this because when Warnock’s name was linked with Villa, the negative outcry from the fans was almost in the McCleish bracket.

      My final observation is I think Pep, Conte, Wenger, Mourino etc would all consider themselves experienced managers so I suggest your observations are more to do with ageism than experience.

      1. Hitchens60 March 21, 2018 at 4:08 pm .

        I should probably have used Klopp rather than Wenger in my arguement but hey ho …

        1. DSVilla March 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm .

          I read Andrew’s comment about experience to be related to time spent in Prem or Championship rather than overall experience elsewhere. Conte, Klopp and Pep have all had an impact, but they were proven managers elsewhere. The same goes at Wolves and Fulham.

          There seem to be two polarised positions with Bruce –

          1) He’s done a great job at a club with major issues and play offs should be seen as a success, regardless of promotion

          2) He has the best squad in the division and failure to win promotion would make him a failure.

          I’m in the second camp. Having said that I can see some truth in the first camp. I suspect, though, that his remit was promotion this season, and I think that could lose him his job if we don’t achieve this.

          Warnock has done a tremendous job. I didn’t want him as our manager. i don’t like the bloke or the football he tends to play. I wonder what would have happened had he managed Villa.

          Anyway, we are we we are. I doubt that 6 victories in the last 8 will get us automatic promotion. If Bruce is correct then in fact it will be 6 in the last 10, since we lost the last 2. That doesn’t sound good enough for a top 2 finish.

          I haven’t given up hope, but realistically I think the play offs is the best we can now hope for. I don’t fancy meeting Fulham there, so if we beat Cardiff and they slip in other games, I hope Fulham sneak in there if we fail to take advantage ourselves. i would fancy our chances more against Cardiff, but that’s lots of ifs and buts. Middlesborough could be tough too.

      2. Andrew March 21, 2018 at 5:14 pm .

        DS Villa’s correct. I have nothing against older managers. My opinion was based on Premier League/Championship experience. Manager’s I’ve mentioned to take over at Villa are typically in their late 40’s/early 50’s. Hell I’ve even mentioned a couple older than that. But our fan base has hugely become a “we need experience in the league” when time and time again it’s proven you don’t.

        As for Warnock. I’m not a fan, but he’s done a terrific job. Would I want him? I don’t think I would, but I can’t fault him for what he’s done with Cardiff and they’ll definitely take 2nd.

    2. Bum Bum March 21, 2018 at 7:28 pm .

      Andrew, there are no big clubs in England. Just rich clubs. Chelsea and Citeh being prime examples.

  5. DSVilla March 21, 2018 at 5:23 pm .

    Just reading that Villa will get about £8M in revenue for this season in the EFL (not sure about parachute payment). That’s against £99M for Sunderland in the Prem where they finished last. If those numbers are correct I’m worried.

    Add in additional sponsorship and the difference is staggering. I suspect without Xia putting his hand very deeply in his pocket we will be stuffed next year if we don’t go up.

  6. Bum Bum March 21, 2018 at 7:45 pm .

    Grant Holt on the bench for Barrow tonight. Weren’t we in for him a couple of years back?????

  7. Holte66 March 21, 2018 at 7:49 pm .

    Looking at the managers we have had since O’Neill, apart from Houllier who I think was starting a new and promising future until his ill health, none of the others were ‘big’ enough to deal with size of club and fans expectations. O’Neill had got us close to the top four and a couple of Wembley trips, so when Lerner decided to claw back money he had spent by selling our best players like Milner, Young and Barry we had to rebuild on a tight budget. It was the signing of Bent that kept us up one season and Bentekes goals that saved us for a while but we were always on borrowed time in the premier league under Lerner. Dr Xia came in and made a mess of things early doors until he brought in knowledgable football people. Di Matteo was a disaster and Bruce was the ideal choice in being big enough and tough enough to deal with fans expectations. Considering what he has had to cope with after his dads death and his moms ill health I know from experience that work has to take a backseat and you have to rely on your work colleagues to get through things. I still don’t hear of an alternative who would be ‘big’ enough to come in. We can go with a promising foreign coach but it would be a massive risk in my opinion and we could go in the wrong direction. We will be a poisoned chalice again if Bruce was dismissed. At least Bruce knows what he is dealing with and I’m not worried if we don’t get promoted this season. Spending big money hasn’t always gone well with McCormack and Tishbola to name a couple so Bruce can attract free agents and loans like Grabban simply because they are coming to Villa and outside the Premier league the most attractive choice.

    1. badger123 March 21, 2018 at 9:30 pm .

      I reckon this is the view I most agree with.
      Although I would worry if we don’t get promoted this season.
      We’d see nunerous players leave, because we can’t afford them and that can only be detrimental, imo.
      Yes, we’re still a big draw for a player, but money talks……

      1. Andrew March 21, 2018 at 11:18 pm .

        Johnstone, Tuanzebe, Onomah, Snodgrass, Grabban would all go back. Arguably 2 are incredibly important, 1 has become a starter so far and 2 meh subs. Then you got Hutton, Terry, Gabby, Samba and Bunn out of contract. Again, 2 important, 3 not so much. So that’s about 4 starters we’d lose due to loans and out of contract and then there’s Grabban who I don’t think would start if Kodjia was fit. Obviously all of the free agents would be gone, maybe bar Terry as if we gave him the option to extend we’d make room for him, but with no parachute payments… Kinda worrying. Then again we’d really have to go back into the loan market as what would really change from last summer? Other than maybe having to sell 1-2 players.

  8. Holte66 March 21, 2018 at 7:59 pm .

    Just thought of an alternative. How about the manager of team who won Indian Super League, what’s his name….got foreign league experience!

    1. Bum Bum March 21, 2018 at 8:10 pm .

      I bloody love that picture of him in Indian garb!!!!!! He looks great, and a picture of health!

  9. Bill Pearson March 21, 2018 at 9:15 pm .

    I remember him winning them games on the trot, we beat all the big clubs the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, what was it 11 games and we was ready for the drop great manager.

    1. Holte66 March 21, 2018 at 10:05 pm .

      I always loved his passion for our club. I think when Little was manager and Gregory was his assistant they had a great chemistry and it was a shame when Ellis screwed things up yet again. We also had a good manager / assistant combination with Big Ron and Andy Gray till he joined Sky. Changing subject slightly for those out there who are obsessed with getting a young foreign manager, what about trying to tempt Remi Garde back.

  10. VillaAwayInDiv3 March 21, 2018 at 11:53 pm .

    Does anyone know why the club have allowed this to happen at BH…..all kinds of abuse being thrown around about it…..
    https://twitter.com/Piccalilli123/st…51426460323840

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