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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20 Replies to “It Doesn’t Matter Where You Stand On Bruce – He Should Be The Least Of Our Concerns”

  • Total agreement with you M F, at 68 yrs and one foot in cemetery gate , I can only arm chair support
    AV these days (heart- C O P D) Bruce has achieved so much, but between them Xia,Wyness they seem
    to have plunged AVFC onto the edge of ……. Where it should never be. There’s got to be a take over
    now ,for the future of this great club . I can’t see any way back without one. Heart breakers all.

    • I’m not saying I’m right, but nice to know I’m not along Laudrup! Cheers. Again I’ll also say he’s not necessarily the silver bullet, but I think he’s earned more leeway than some give him.

  • I am allowed to be optimistic? Very difficult I know BUT… Let’s imagine we get taken over quickly.. the new owners have serious wealth… Right, good so far…Then cash flow problems disappear… Still got Financial Fair Play though.. we would still need to be prudent, and try and offload fringe players, no doubt..BUT could we then keep Chester, Grealish and Kodjia until at least January? Keep Steve Bruce also because stability at this time is essential IMO.. with the spine of the team intact a few good loan signings and no immediate cash flow problems let’s see where we are in January. I would suggest/hope at least in top 6 in this scenario..then say to those three..stick with us to end of season..if we don’t go up then promise to sell them without any quibbles…it’s about as optimistic as I can be with the present position

    • Seriously wealthy owners have things they can play with Kr – again even if it’s the more traditional swallow stand or ground sponsorship. That affects the FFP hole. And worst case under FFP when you get to punishment stage, the smaller that gap actually is – the goodwill shown in trying to close it – in itself, it buys you leeway on punishment. If the hole is £20m and we do nothing that’s a fine and embargo. If the hole is £15m and we have clearly tried to comply with the rules, there’s more chance of a fine than embargo and so on. To Xia’s credit and others, I’d say we could argue we made good efforts – falling wage bill etc etc – for mitigation.

  • Are you kidding? His buying dinosaurs contributed to the cash flow problems. If he signs younger hungrier players. They cost less. He refuses to play anyone of note for a decent timeframe from the U23s. It was known from the start of the season. Promotion or sacked. The first real sign of our owners risk. Willing to gamble the clubs existence. Bruce. Xia. All should go. EFL needs to scrutinize any future takeover of any club especially historically significant sides like Villa. This will happen again to someone else if they don’t. No Chinese owners. Full stop. Unless all of their monies are out of their country, which I heard is impossible. Come on lads. Think logical. Bruce. Xia. They are all in it for the money only. They could care less about AVFC.

    • I’m sorry Michael, I normally like people with my name, we’re kind of Saintly, but really.

      Bruce targets signings, he doesn’t spend the money, he doesn’t dictate contracts that the Board for a start. We signed ‘dinosaurs’ with little to no transfer fees, with a wage and a signing on bonus. Who should we have gone for, the likes of Nathan Redmond, John Stones or ‘somebody with exotic name’ like Tonev – cause that’s worked for us before and what we save in signing on fee and wage we lose in transfer fee and no sell on because they are a risk.

      I’m completely with you on using our Under 23s, that was a clear failing but it was a failing instructed by the Board and the owner. Nothing but promotion will do after barely 12 months of a decent atmosphere at the club and ignoring other than tightening up at the back somewhat and developing a backbone, we had little in attack or style of play. Great move Doc! If your job dictates per week you produce 500 of something and are then asked to produce a 1000 of the same thing, would you risk time letting others have a go?

      No Chinese owners full stop – you lose all respect there, have you heard of Wolves who actually had a plan? Why is a Chinese owner who can’t get ‘all their money’ out of China any worse than an English owner who won’t put all their money into a club just because ‘a’ fan wants them to. Get a grip.

  • There is no reasoning to keep Steve Bruce, failed for 2 years, spent £25M on an unbalanced squad and played a dire brand of football

  • Bruce carried out the gamble he was asked to do. He nearly achieved it!
    Now, with no money we have to rebuild for the future (maybe 2 or 3 seasons) and Bruce is not the type of manager to do that. We need a manager who can nurture the youngsters and setup a new type of scouting system.

    • That’s the problem isn’t it. Bruce is best with experience, he rarely does youth progression. In amongst all the nonsense I’ve read, that is the salient point Fred. You hit the nail straight on the head. I’m willing to give him the shot, I understand those who won’t.

      • Would agree providing a)he is aware of the tasks ahead b)realizes his shortcomings. Now with sporting director gone appoint a under manager with a track record for progressing players.

  • Bruce shouldn’t take all the flak, but he cannot be exonerated either. His probable continuation as manager does offer some short-term stability, which is probably what we need now.

    It would be interesting to know how the club can change their manager, should they wish to, without incurring a big compensation claim. If Bruce is on a rolling contract, I would have thought there must be some contractual juncture that allows either party to opt out. Does anybody know?

    The Xia-Whyness-Bruce axis certainly was a recipe for disaster. The three seemed to create a perfect storm for spending. Xia appeared hell bent on buying his way to the ‘big league’ with the other two hardly needing too much persuasion to go along for the ride, even if they may have both had a few personal doubts.

    Although Bruce will have required sign off for each of his transfer dealings, he cannot plead complete ignorance to the balance sheet. Even I could see we were over-spending well before the final crash. He also cannot claim he spent next to nothing last season. Although transfer fees were low, he spent one hell of a lot on salaries. Many of his buys were poor, although he did cover that up quite effectively with loans.

    My feeling is Bruce’s confidence is nowhere near as robust as his public persona portrays. All manager’s must have self-preservation high in the list of priorities, but I think this is quite telling with our gaffer. Villa could be his last big job and his success and methods probably come under greater scrutiny being with a ‘big’ club. I think this is why he likes to play it safe and seeks familiarity with players he knows, either stock from past clubs or well known, reliable, steady Eddies – Glenn Whelan is a good example. Playing the odds might appear the right course of action, but I think it has actually only contributed to his bland, ‘take no chances’ style of play.

    This season will be telling. The latest reports suggest he might have next to no budget to play with, including the use of free transfers and loans. This will be a big test of his resolve. Will he knuckle down, work with what he already has at his disposal, minus Grealish, Chester and, perhaps, Kodjia or will he bale out?

    I think his natural inclination will be to jump ship, but at this stage in his career can he afford to go?

    He will carry some blame for Villa’s predicament, but future team expectation will lessen. He clearly has young talent at his disposal. Although it goes against his usual instincts, has he an opportunity to create a new side, blending both experience and youth?

    The next couple of weeks will be very interesting to follow.

    • When I work out how to do images in article comments, I’ll lend you a set. Others have been through harsher Blue, keep the faith!

  • Just a thought.

    Should Steve Bruce decide to reject the prospect entering the new season without the cushion of a transfer budget and opts to walk, I wonder whether Carlos Carvalhal would then come under consideration as a replacement?

    I am not suggesting our current manager will go, but neither would I be surprised if he hasn’t got the stomach for it. His reign at Hull City came to an end because of his inability to bring in reinforcements.

    Currently unattached and looking to work over here, the Portuguese man would be someone with relevant experience and without the baggage of compensation payments to cover. I know he has had mixed success in the past, but I suspect he would come be a fair bit cheaper that our current incumbent.

    A change of owner could complicate matters, but an early exit so close to the start of a new season and limited funds would limit recruitment options.

  • quote- ” every club needs 11 gary gardners ” new contract up’d wages say no more- blamed the snow at Bolton and the media and fans fell for the experience bullshit and then when asked why villa failed to show up at the final he quote ” maybe it was the occasion that got to them or the heat”….HES DONE IT BEFORE was the only thing our dumb board and thick as shit fans could say to you in response of why he was a good choice..just because you do something doesn’t mean you will do it again and to gamble a multi pound business on that alone with fans backing was just mental health and we deserve all we get . look up e.g when Bruce was sacked at sunderland they then said after 80mil spent he didn’t move with the times his football was just one tactic no plan b and nothings changed, we have quality and youth and its criminal we have not got anywhere near the levels we should be. We have always shopped on the dole for managers when Newcastle have shown there best signing for years has been Raffa not a player that’s the blueprint we have cocked up on, even in our unbeaten run didn’t loose but Brentford at home 1 shot in 94 mins at vp was the football we were served up, many games teams didn’t put us away and we took advantage with inividuals going on a run of goals which highlighted we were not a team but had to rely on individuals to get us out of the shit, first season 11 points of the drop 2nd season 76mil squad then add terry snoddy loans n youth and still shite yet I’ve spent nothing speil FFP and fans bought into it, wages wages hes looked after old pals act every where hes been, 6 right backs 1 left back, keeping faith with shite not blending the youth, Gabby 3 new fitness regimes cus he was fat and unfit but old pals act again, Lied about Ross Mcormack the list goes on, Wyness if we go down we will keep Bruce old pals act everywhere Steve round in this as well everyone feathering there own nest at our exspence, villa need an old Liverpool style boot room and conveyor belt of managers all villa – laursen mellberg doing well as a manager I taylor Stan P s teale GOD, Delaney doing well with youngsters previously I said Ugo n Southgate but villa men for the villa team n fans you get the picture, the fans would buy into this big time and its then the massive togetherness will see us rise again and shut the fuckers up big time utv sotc4ever.

  • I agree that Bruce operates in a Redknapp fashion, looking to buy his way forward. He will perm a squad until he finds a winning way, but appears to lack the nous or methodology to understand what works and what doesn’t.

    He went through a fortune at Sunderland and would gladly have done the same at Villa, I’m sure. However, a large wedge of our spending under Xia was done pre-Bruce, although Stevie certainly shifted £20-£25M himself in transfer fees and a shed load more in wages on loans and frees. The fact he had to rely on so many loans last season highlighted either his poor recruitment in the first place or his confused methods.

    The biggest problem, other than the purchase of old codgers, lay with the purchase of three very expensive strikers. With in excess of £30M splashed out on McCormack, Kodjia and Hogan, Villa broadcasted a statement of complete madness for all to note.

    Bruce should never have been allowed to ostracise McCormack and lose almost all his re-sale value the way he did. Regardless of the Scot’s behaviour, it was financial suicide to just kiss away, arguably £9-£10M. It also smacked of double standards when Agbonlahor was positively supported by the Geordie throughout his tenure, even though he would just pick up that little knock when needed and continued to fleece the club, as he had done year in, year out. I have to watch my words, so I will limit it to describing him as a true villain.

    The imbalance within the squad is plain to see, as already mentioned, we have loads of right backs and only Taylor a genuine left back. Had Bruce had his way, another old recruit from Hull would have been joining us this season – Odubajo. You guessed it, another right back.

    Twenty five seniors still sit on the books with Bruce reluctant to regularly utilise the services of Steer, Bree, Taylor, Elphick, Bjarnason, Tshibola, Gardner, Lansbury, Hogan and McCormack. Not long ago Adomah sat in this group too.

    I can support an argument in keeping Bruce short term, mainly to act as the one constant in a period of major change. However, that aside, I would ditch him tomorrow.

    • There are a few players there that might well HAVE to be utilised, agree Tony J. With the mess we are in, it should be slate clean for all time.

  • Whether he is good enough or not, at this stage, no idea. But I can’t see in our current mess anyone else wanting to come in? We need to clear £40million before we can even start to think of a loan signing, let alone a real signing. It might not be about what us fans want, it might be that Steve decides he’s onto a hiding to nothing and walks. As said, no idea who would then be willing to come into this total shambles.

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