Somewhere within the next few days Steve Bruce will be announced as the next manager of Aston Villa Football Club.
Multiple reports out of England conclude the Aston Villa managerial search whittled down to two candidates: Ex-Hull City boss Steve Bruce and current caretaker manager Steve Clarke.
Let’s save face for the moment and accept Bruce, 55, as the next manager in line for the job. The Birmingham Mail even reported Bruce has begun his search for possible assistants to the backroom staff. Aston Villa Technical Director Steve Round (why is everyone named Steve?) made his recommendation to owner Dr. Tony Xia and chief executive Keith Wyness on Friday.
Despite rumored interest from a number of managers about the Villa position, Steve Bruce is the only one to receive a formal interview. Coupled with his current 1/5 betting line odds, it seems Bruce and Aston Villa are an inevitable duo.
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An unparalleled genius when it comes to the English second-division, Steve Bruce has been promoted an incredible four times since 2002. Twice with Birmingham City and a further two times with Hull City, whom he led from 2012 to the beginning of this season.
His problems with the Hull City brass remain well documented. He resigned just two weeks prior to the start of the Premier League season amid rumored frustration over the lack of transfer funds. (He also reportedly was gunning for the England job prior to Sam Allardyce’s hire).
Bruce’s time at Hull City brought great success to the club including the team’s first ever involvement in European action back in 2014-2015. That season saw Hull City play in the Europa League off the heels of an incredible run to the FA Cup final.
Bruce brings about an astute technical knowledge of the game paired with a few caveats. His playing experiences, while vast, shape his perception and managerial style. He’s a throw back manager from the days when football, and the business surrounding it, were far more simple.
He’s famously quoted as saying he, “doesn’t like tactics” during a press conference as Sunderland boss. A Google hit of “Steve Bruce Tactics” reveal a number of articles posted over the years citing Bruce’s refusal to move with the times.
In the age of big data and analytics, one has to wonder about a Steve Bruce appointment. Does he have the ability to build Aston Villa back up from scratch? More importantly, does Aston Villa have the proper operational system for Bruce to succeed?
Recency bias will tell us no. Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood, Rémi Garde, and Roberto Di Matteo all failed to deliver promises of glorious, winning Aston Villa football.
That’s what makes Steve Bruce and Aston Villa such an inevitable couple. Both parties seek a short-term fix for their problems. Villa seek instant promotion back to the Premier League, therefore, who better than the man that has done it four times? Bruce seeks a highly-regarded job with the proper funds to make the club his own.
Perhaps Bruce will do what Roberto Di Matteo could not, and lead the club on a winning streak. Maybe he maximizes every ounce of this talented, attack-heavy squad. Maybe he receives more January funding to fill out the squad’s weaknesses in defense and central midfield. Maybe he’s just another manager to add to the list of Lambert/Sherwood/Garde/Di Matteo.
His lengthy spells at previous clubs should bring an optimistic appeal. Perhaps Steve Bruce is the perfect man for Aston Villa.
Look for Monday morning as the official announcement date of Bruce’s arrival. He’ll have six days to prepare for Wolverhampton at home.