How long before the Villa fans turn on Bruce?

Discussion in 'Hull City' started by wawnetiger, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. SydneyTiger14

    SydneyTiger14 Well-Known Member

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    #101
  2. originallambrettaman

    originallambrettaman Mod Moderator
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    #102
  3. look_back_in_amber

    look_back_in_amber Well-Known Member

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    Brucey has it all to do by the looks of things. Good luck to him, I think he's going to need it.

    The Results

    Steve Bruce is auditioning to keep his own job.

    Not necessarily with the Villa Park hierarchy who are determined to stand by their man, but with a claret and blue faithful plunging back towards previous levels of disillusionment.

    That we are at this stage again so rapidly is a damning indictment of how spectacularly wrong it has gone on the pitch for Aston Villa in 2017.

    But how has it come to this? And what next for Villa?

    Football editor Mat Kendrick looks closely at Bruce's reign so far.

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    Five defeats on the spin against Brentford, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town, Barnsley and Newcastle United is the worst run of results of Bruce's Championship career.

    Added to the losses at Cardiff City and Wolverhampton Wanderers before that it makes for a shocking sequence of seven defeats in eight league games, with the draw with Preston North End the only respite from losing.

    And that's without mentioning the FA Cup exit at Tottenham Hotspur.

    Right now Villa are second only to bottom club Rotherham in the Championship form table.

    On the flip side, it is worth remembering that not so long ago there were seven wins and three draws in Bruce's first 12 matches, they were unbeaten for the first seven and he has produced Villa's first two away wins in over a year.

    Here's Bruce's Championship record in full since taking over on October 12, 133 days ago.

    P21, W7 D5 L9

    The Performances
    Let's face it Villa haven't exactly been easy on the eye, either under Bruce or Roberto Di Matteo before him.

    Those seven victories for Bruce were achieved with grit and determination rather than flowing football.

    Under Bruce they have averaged less than a goal a game - 20 goals in 21 games - which considering the cash splashed on strikers this season is a depressing statistic.

    With the exception of Brighton away and Preston at home - both ending in draws - it is hard to recall too many performances to excite the claret and blue public since Bruce came in.

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    More worryingly in recent times is that the defensive solidity of Bruce's early days seems to be slipping with Villa not only guilty of committing basic errors, but repeating them time and again.

    This failure to learn from their mistakes is particularly frustrating. So much so that Bruce has been forced to repeat himself following away day horror show after away day horror show.

    When he blasted the team's performance at Norwich we hoped that would be the end of it, but the same depressing displays have reared their ugly heads at Cardiff, Wolves, Brentford and so on.

    Even a manager as open and articulate as Bruce can sound like a broken record when he is forced to give the same interview after almost every match.

    He himself knows that actions speak louder than words.

    The Team Selection
    It will come as no surprise to many regular Villa observers that Bruce has not named an unchanged team very often.

    In fact this has happened just once - when the same XI started the match at Queens Park Rangers and the subsequent game at home to Burton Albion around Christmas time.

    Guess what? Villa won both games - and those were the last occasions they tasted victory.

    Suggestions that the manager does not yet know his best XI are backed up by the continual chopping and changing, which is perhaps a little more understandable in recent weeks given the flurry of January signings.

    Of course injuries, suspensions, new signings and Africa Cup of Nations duty are among the reasons why changes have been made, but the QPR-Burton example highlights the benefits of getting a settled side.

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    Newcastle United V Aston Villa: 90 minutes in 90 seconds
    Bruce himself admitted that the switch of formation to a 3-5-2 was too much too soon for his new look squad and the speed with which he abandoned it confirmed it was a failed experiment.

    This is one of the biggest surprises of Bruce's tenure so far.

    In a desperate search for a winning formula he has fallen into the trap of some of his claret and blue predecessors by constantly tinkering, rather than picking a way of playing and trusting his instincts enough to stick with it even during the difficult times.

    Signing the best players at this level is not enough. You could have a wardrobe full of designer clothes, but assembling them into an outfit that looks good is a different matter.

    Right now Villa look like they are wearing their Louboutins on their heads.

    The Recruitment
    Bruce has had the rare luxury of being able to sign half a team during the winter transfer window, but we are yet to find out whether that has been a help or a hindrance.

    At first glance the incoming business looks good, signing the best players from their Championship rivals for competitive prices and at good ages.

    Many fans were buzzing at the arrivals of Henri Lansbury, Conor Hourihane and Scott Hogan for example.

    However, in strengthening the team, have Villa weakened the squad?

    In Jonathan Kodjia and Hogan, Villa boast two of the Championships hottest hotshots.

    But in allowing Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew to leave to fund Hogan, they now have a striking support cast without a single Championship goal between them - the injured Gabby Agbonlahor, on a year long scoring drought, and rookies Rushian Hepburn-Murphy and Keinan Davis.

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    Likewise in defensive midfield where Mile Jedinak has to be treated like a classic car.

    The veteran midfielder can be used for weekend runabouts, but with Ashley Westwood leaving and Aaron Tshibola going out on loan, Villa are without another specialist holding midfielder to provide cover for when Jedinak is in the garage, especially with Carlos Sanchez also on a temporary stint away from the club and unlikely to return.

    This is not intended as a major criticism, as the departing players listed above were by no means the first names on the team-sheet, but for a club that have invested so much money in player recruitment this season and in previous years, there is very little depth in certain departments.

    The fact Villa are taking a look at free agent Christopher Samba highlights the limited central defensive cover too.

    Then there is the goalkeeper situation.

    Bruce and coach Gary Walsh rate the attitude and potential of Sam Johnstone and believe his dedication on the training ground will be crucial in the way he handles setbacks and criticism.

    But a difficult start for the Manchester United loanee has prompted questions over whether Bruce, having let Pierluigi Gollini return to Italy on loan, should instead have targeted an experienced keeper rather than another rookie. Only time will tell.

    The Players
    Bruce has been in football management long enough to know that bearing the brunt of the blame comes with the territory when things go wrong.

    Some of his decisions have certainly played a big part in Villa's recent demise.

    But what about the players?

    Only James Chester and Jonathan Kodjia can boast anything like consistency so far this season and even then Kodjia needs to work on his awareness, passing and being a team player, while Chester's composure has creaked slightly in recent weeks.

    There are two theories about what happens to players when they sign for modern-day Aston Villa.

    Number one is that they often achieve the biggest payday of their careers and suffer McCormack Syndrome, which manifests itself in a lack of desire and professionalism.

    Perhaps he caught it off Gabby Agbonlahor who suffered the same symptoms last season.

    Number two is that the famous claret and blue shirt weighs heavily on them. They buckle under the expectation and scrutiny that comes with playing for this club.

    It is a view shared by an ex-pro who has watched Villa regularly this season.

    The second theory would seem the most common throughout a much-changed dressing room. Some players grow into what is required, others never recover.

    It will be a few months yet before we find out for definite what the latest batch are made of.

    Again, it would appear that a settled system would help the new and existing players. For example Birkir Bjarnason has already played in four different positions since arriving last month. He excelled for Iceland and Basel on the left side of midfield so could do with a run of games there.

    It is the responsibility of Bruce and his coaches to get all of the players feeling comfortable in their surroundings and used to the pressure.

    The Backdrop
    Villa have been in a vicious circle of decline for nearly seven years now. SEVEN YEARS.

    Therefore while each manager and player should only be judged on their respective times at the club, everything they do is set against a backdrop of what went before.

    And what went before was dreadful.

    The patience threshold would be much higher had Villa not endured year after year of disappointment.

    As a result Roberto Di Matteo suffered because he was supposed to be the antidote to Tim Sherwood, Remi Garde, Eric Black et al, while the pressure on Bruce has accelerated because he is supposed to be the antidote to Di Matteo.

    Does the realisation that they are tasked with clearing up a mess of several years making crank up the heat on Villa managers so much that it leads to muddled thinking? There's certainly evidence to support that argument as the dugout casualties continue to mount up.

    Villa are fast running out of saviours and scapegoats.

    That player on the bench - or in someone else's squad - might not be the solution after all, while that player on the pitch or in the dugout might not always be the problem.

    The Board
    The Villa board are still very much convinced that Bruce is the right man for the job.

    That stance might waver if Bruce is unable to escape this alarming rut any time soon, but the claret and blue hierarchy are not minded to give up on the 56-year-old Geordie.

    Excitable but endearing owner Tony Xia exists in a social media world where he is at the frontline for the loudest cyber screams of the disgruntled fanbase and he knows the ongoing malaise could eventually dent his own popularity.

    But in director of football Steve Round, chief executive Keith Wyness and boardroom advisor Brian Little he has a support network preaching calm and continuity.

    Reacquaint yourselves with what Round said about the astounding level of due diligence that went into appointing Bruce:

    "The number one target on my list was Steve Bruce," he said.

    "When the manager search came back it was a 40-page document and the number one recommendation was Steve Bruce.

    "It was an excellent fact to back up our instinct and advise the chairman – this is our one to six from that 10.

    "In the end, we went with a recommendation to the owner. The owner made the decision and went with Steve."

    It would take something drastic - and by that I mean relegation - for them to say 'ah, sod it, get Dean Smith or Gary Rowett in'.

    There are those saying that Bruce has already had virtually twice as many matches as 11-game RDM.

    That's true - but do Villa really want to become a football club that takes a microwavable meal mentality to managers?

    The Fanbase
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    Despite the swirl of emotions on social media, the fans inside Villa Park and on their tour of Championship away grounds have largely remained supportive.

    And this despite Villa having the habit of turning wide eyed hopefuls into Statler and Waldorf in next to no time.

    Some players feel the sense of unease from the crowd at times doesn't help but captain James Chester recently admitted the backlash could and probably should have been worse given the recent results.

    The full-time grumbles that have become the soundtrack to Villa’s seasons during this decade have predictably made a return after back to back home defeats to Ipswich and Barnsley.

    But Villa Park crowds have held us reasonably well, while the away fans sell out most weeks with both home and away followings invariably showing their support rather than frustrations during games.

    It is a point I often make but it is worth repeating: This fanbase doesn't need much encouragement to offer their enthusiastic backing to their team - but building them up and letting them down is taking its toll more than ever before.

    The Future
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    Bruce is on a rolling contract, the details of which remain sketchy, but he is expected to be the manager to guide Villa into next season.

    As Villa's form has crashed and burned fans have talked about possible alternatives to Bruce, but I for one believe he deserves the rest of this campaign at least to try to arrest Villa's decline and get them moving the right direction.

    Villa need an identity, a way of playing, a gameplan that players can understand, no matter the personnel, and that fans can buy into.

    Some of Bruce's critics have tried to portray him as yesterday's man, but I don't subscribe to that theory.

    He knows this division - in fact he is so last season that he actually achieved promotion from it last season!

    Bruce's audition to remain as Aston Villa manager continues at Villa Park against Derby County on Saturday and Bristol City next Tuesday.

    He requires performances, results and a response from his players to prove that Villa can make progress under him and that he is the man to clear up the mess of recent years.

    Bruce understands only too well that if he fails with this audition between now and May then calls of 'Next please' will grow.
     
    #103
  4. PattyNchips2

    PattyNchips2 Well-Known Member

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    its like Bruce tried everything with us but burnt himself out getting us to PL last season.
    I think he should have retired after he left us. His talent as a manager had left him the season he took us up.
     
    #104
  5. Chazz Rheinhold

    Chazz Rheinhold Well-Known Member

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    Forum ****wit strikes again.
    Good article. Villas rotten has been for years. If he can get to the end of the season and then get rid of **** like Hutton. He might have a chance next year as the pl clubs coming down aren't in a good state.
     
    #105
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  6. PattyNchips2

    PattyNchips2 Well-Known Member

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    please place me on ignore old ****.
    oh many apologies, I forgot SB was your hero
    <sorry>
     
    #106
  7. Chazz Rheinhold

    Chazz Rheinhold Well-Known Member

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    And again FF
     
    #107
  8. Carmine Galante.

    Carmine Galante. Well-Known Member

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    How old are you?

    Serious question.
     
    #108
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  9. PattyNchips2

    PattyNchips2 Well-Known Member

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    I dont even talk to him..
     
    #109
  10. Carmine Galante.

    Carmine Galante. Well-Known Member

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    Don't like the bastard, just answer it.
     
    #110
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  11. PattyNchips2

    PattyNchips2 Well-Known Member

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    um....................................................................................................... **** off?
    Ive already got a dad, I dont need to be subservient to you.
     
    #111
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  12. armchairfan

    armchairfan Well-Known Member

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    "He knows this division - in fact he is so last season that he actually achieved promotion from it last season!"

    Barely achieved promotion, through the playoffs and a big semi-final scare. The second tier was weaker that year thankfully.
     
    #112
  13. SydneyTiger14

    SydneyTiger14 Well-Known Member

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    I think patty actually made a valid point. I think Bruce is burnt out from his time with us, and really should have taken the whole year off. Villa are a big club though and hard to turn down. So much pressure and expectation on him though. Surprised to hear that Chester is struggling though.
     
    #113
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  14. originallambrettaman

    originallambrettaman Mod Moderator
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    Villa have just announced that striker Scott Hogan, who they just paid £15m for, is going to be out injured for 5-6 weeks.
     
    #114
  15. The greengrocer

    The greengrocer Well-Known Member

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    Way too many thoughs there though!
     
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