Date: 29th June 2018 at 4:46pm
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With so much still up in the air when it comes to Aston Villa, there’s still a massive debate surrounding the future of manager Steve Bruce and fans aren’t just seemingly split down the middle – even before news of impending financial doom broke and the subsequent twist towards new owners, Brucie’s future could probably slot into a few distinct camps.

1 – He failed – fire.
2 – We missed out at the last hurdle – he deserves another shot.
3 – Promotion didn’t matter – we need a more forward-thinking manager who entertains.

If I sat here for longer I could think of more given the views I’ve seen expressed but it’s not necessary for the purpose of this wibble.

For a whole host of reasons, Brentford manager Dean Smith has been an easy go-to for some fans given he works on a budget, isn’t afraid of youth and likes to play good football and whether Bruce gets discussed now he comes up in the chat.

In our situation though, even if there was consensus on Bruce’s future – how could we attract him?

Where’s the money to pay Bruce off? Where’s the money to offer compensation to Brentford? How can Xia sell the club to him?

“Promote the youth, you might get a loan and a free transfer if you’re lucky? I don’t know where I’ll get your first month’s wage from yet, I’m running out of things to deal with Macquarie over. I tied to factor myself but apparently, my tweets aren’t worth anything now.”

Until we have far more clarity on things, with everything else going on at the moment, where we can find stability we have to seize it. So much is still unsure, we have to have a grounding somewhere. Changing manager is pie in the sky when you consider it from a financial point of view.

We know what we get with Bruce, it might not be pretty and he certainly has flaws, but Play-Off Final compared to where we were when he took over, he needs some credit for what he achieved. Arguably having played his part in tightening us up at the back and turning the atmosphere around, he deserves a shot at fixing his own flaws.

I don’t believe he’s been given an easy ride for ‘failure’ as some claim because the stated aim from Xia was mental in the first place given the atmosphere in the group and at the club. Always aim high and set the bar, but not **** or bust with failure the likely outcome. You should plan to manage expectations better than that – but maybe it’s best we don’t judge our Board thinking of ‘management’ and ‘planning’ at this moment.

Bruce was basically set up to fail by an owner who liked people on twitter saying how they loved him because he knew how to tweet and use emojis. Yes, the cryptic tweets were entertaining, but fans hated RL for saying nothing until there was some substance to his communication. Fans loved Xia for regularly tweeting nothing with substance. RL spoke when he had something to say, Xia hid until this week’s non-statement. Doug was a regular in the press and it was always about him.

I also don’t get people blaming Bruce for our spending, he doesn’t have that power and he doesn’t juggle finances, that’s not his job.

Before fawning, (or criticising in fairness), fans should ask for far more before swallowing and giving blind belief before it’s been earned. A good number of fans have unfortunately learnt that the hard way, this last few weeks.

With that semi-defence of Bruce, that’s not to say he didn’t make massive errors during the season and it doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with his Dad’s Army approach. A balanced youth approach is sadly lacking and the lack of game time for some of our Under 23s was a travesty when Josh Onomah got game after game despite being anonymous. The irony is in the current situation we’d find ourselves much better positioned if the likes of Callum O’Hare and our next promising batch had been given 5-10 games in 2017/18.

We cant call for loyalty if we don’t show any and now is the time to show faith in Bruce and hope he finds a better balance next season and in the process can go one step further and we use the disappointment of the last campaign to drive us harder this time around – whatever happens off the pitch.

Off the pitch, the starting point has to be takeover full stop and we find continuity where we can whilst things are reassessed properly on a sound financial footing. There are things a new owner can do that Xia clearly now can’t on a Financial Fair Play front – even if that means stand or ground sponsorship and the more traditional amongst us bite our tongues out of necessity.

I don’t see minority investment being anything other than a sticking plaster. But there’s no point changing anything unless the biggest question is dealt with. The biggest question is Xia’s future – everyone else from management to players are largely irrelevant until that’s sorted, at least in the sense of ‘what fans want’.

I don’t see Xia having much of a choice and given a post on Vital Villa saying ‘leave him to it he’s a fan’ with the blind belief he’ll sort his mess out, he has the chance to truly prove he’s a fan. Do what’s what’s right, quickly, for the club. Not his ego, pride, or bank balance and that would certainly offset the anger that’s turned in his direction of late.

He risked, he lost, Villa shouldn’t pay the price for that – and we currently are.

 
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