On the two-year anniversary of Roberto Di Matteo’s sacking, Aston Villa stayed true to their manager-firing form. Steve Bruce is gone after 102 matches in charge.
After a run of one win in ten matches, Aston Villa Chief Executive Officer, Christian Purslow, relieved manager Steve Bruce of his duties effective immediately. His entire backroom staff of assistants including, Colin Calderwood, Stephen Clemence, Steve Agnew, and goalkeeper coach Gary Walsh were dismissed as well.
This was a clearing of the house, a clear sign the higher-ups were not pleased with the club’s current results and general atmosphere. It shouldn’t come as a surprise, either. We wrote earlier in the summer that Bruce was always going to be on a short leash. Nassef Sawiris, Wes Edens, and Purslow didn’t hire the manager. He wasn’t “their guy.”
Bruce’s legacy, I’m afraid, is going to be perceived as rather forgetful. Make no mistake, he did a lot of good in his post, namely in his first season as Aston Villa manager – where he aided the club’s turnaround after 8 points from the opening 10 league matches post-relegation. In his second, he came within one match of Premier League promotion.
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But the lows of Bruce’s tenure spoke louder, and more frequently, than his successes. By the end, he had turned on fans and media alike for valid criticism. Always combative, many of his post-game pressers came off as hypocritical or outright nonsensical.
His tactical set-ups, always varying and confusing, led to confusion on the pitch. Players were routinely played out-of-position or shuttled between positions too often. Some key players found themselves frozen out for extended periods. Many of Bruce’s signings from the January 2017 window either have been busts or flat-out under-performed.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, might have been lineup stunt he pulled in his final game, the 3-3 draw with Preston. Bruce elected to use 3rd-string goalkeeper Mark Bunn over incumbent starter Ørjan Nyland AND the on-loan Andre Moreira. Fellow summer signings Anwar El Ghazi and Yannick Bolasie continued to sit on the bench while non-wingers Jack Grealish and Jonathan Kodjia…..played wing again.
Steve Bruce ends his Aston Villa managerial career with a record of: 46 wins, 25 draws, and 31 losses. The Championship Play-Off Final was the closest he came to some hardware. Bruce collected just 3 victories in 4 different domestic cup tournaments.
We move forward towards another manager search. Expect an announcement over the October international break.