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Aston Villa’s Bruce uses hypocrisy to defend his terrible decision

Sam Johnstone’s doing just what you’d expect a young keeper to do, right?

Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Here are the facts as we know them: Steve Bruce stopped playing Pierluigi Gollini at least partially because the Italian was too young and inexperienced. This was despite the fact that Gollini had markedly improved as the season had progressed and had five clean sheets to his name. This left Aston Villa starting Mark Bunn, who was bad. To fix the issue in the winter transfer window, Steve Bruce went out and picked up a loan on Manchester United’s third-string 23-year-old keeper Sam Johnstone.

When Gollini left on loan to Atalanta, Bruce said “For me he needs to go and play and learn his trade. I think it was a little bit too early for Pier, at this stage of his career, to come to Villa.” We obviously have a decision made based on the fact that Gollini still had a lot of learning left to do, and that’s just not who you want starting for Aston Villa. (I disagree, but hey, I’ll accept this on its face for now.)

Flash forward to this past weekend, when a howler of a mistake from Sam Johnstone gifted Forest their first goal, and poor play later assured them of a second. Surely these are signs of a keeper who is too early in his career to be starting for Villa, right?

“He’s a young goalkeeper and he’s obviously disappointed - of course he will be. That’s the makings of a young goalkeeper.“

That’s Bruce in the official post-match reaction. So it’s pretty obvious that Bruce actually DOESN’T mind a young keeper learning on the job and just... I’m not sure actually. Shipped out an improving young prospect who had a future at the club for a player who can join us for a few months with no indication that the deal can be made permanent.

The hypocrisy of this enrages me. Steve Bruce has not gotten the results needed to get away with this sort of waffling, but he’s trying it anyways. And he’s trying most of our nerves, too.