Date: 27th June 2018 at 5:00pm
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Aston Villa’s current financial state has taken a lot of the headlines so far this summer since news broke of our cash flow issues and our unknown Financial Fair Play hole as we go into the Championship season of 2018/19.

Failure to gain promotion back to the Premier League was always going to cause us problems and unfortunately for us, things have only got worse since then.

Tony J has tried to look past the emotions associated with the latest news and stories surrounding B6 and looked ahead to the new campaign with an eye on another man who has been the topic of plenty of talk since last season ended – our manager Steve Bruce.

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Writer: Tony J

First things first, I don’t rate Bruce very highly, so I guess I should come clean.

I think he will struggle without an open chequebook, not just for transfer fees, but wages too. I never thought he ‘boxed clever’, even if he did.

That all said, it looks as if he is staying, so he deserves some budget clarity sooner, rather than later. Whether Dr T is in a position to confirm much is an issue, but the gaffer needs to have an idea of who he is likely to lose and what he can do to plug the gaps.

Brucie will hanker for experience (usually costly with no sell on value), but a little bit will be necessary if, say, Chester, Grealish and Kodjia are no more. What we must do though, in my humble opinion, is not pander to his hankering for external solutions to all his problems. He has to utilise some of the youth we have.

Bruce has to demonstrate he can coach and apply some tactical nous. If he can’t, he should be honest and walk away now, rather than let things fester. What I do recognise is the need for some stability, which left me with mixed feelings over Bruce’s continued tenure. It is with is in mind, I would not be against him remaining – for now.

Although it cannot really be substantiated, I just think the game is moving on quicker than Brucie. He is a steady hand and has a formula that has worked historically. However, he seems to me to manage by trial and error, rather than having a clear method. He is also reliant, more often than not, on additional resources.

If you look solely at his incoming players (excluding loans), I would suggest his success rate has been no better than 40% at best and he has discarded most of his Villa permanent signings from his eventual XIs fielded at the back end of the season.

I also think Bruce has a tendency to panic and will act irrationally at times, stocking his forward line at the expense of any midfield for instance when chasing a game. Clearly, it is a difficult job managing a side, particularly when the expectation is very high. Self-preservation in an unforgiving world is understandable. Despite all this though, I wonder if the manager’s methods are losing their mojo?

Perhaps a couple of last thoughts.

Firstly, we cannot ignore the finances. To oust Bruce would appear to be costly. Although he is on a hefty deal, his reported severance terms would prove damaging.

How does a rolling deal work? When can you opt out with a manager without financial penalty?

Secondly, who is available as an alternative? I quite like the look of Dean Smith’s work with Brentford, but fan aside, would he leave a stable job for a maelstrom called Aston Villa? Would he settle quickly and adapt to the associated expectation/pressure?

Questions, questions, but do you have the answers?

 
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