While last night’s match against Reading wasn’t a complete disaster in the same way that the Cardiff game was, two terrible games in a row and a turgid start to the football season for Aston Villa have got people questioning Bruce’s ability to turn around the current situation, and for good reason. Bruce’s ‘improvements’ led to Villa failing to take control in a game against Reading which was there for the taking. Steve Bruce is reflecting Paul Lambert’s late desperation not even a year into his Villa career.
Steve Bruce is seeing that things aren’t working, but these quotes to Talksport show that he believes he is the man to turn it around:
“We obviously signed John Terry, people have got carried away with the euphoria of it all, we are where we are and I’m convinced I’m the right one to turn it round. There’s still obviously a load of work to be done but judge us when all the players are fit and ready and at the minute we are having a tough time. We’ve had a tough start – Newcastle had a tough start last year – we have to batton down the hatches, still believe in what we are doing and get that win which will obviously give everyone a lift.”
However, things are not getting good at Villa Park. The atmosphere on Twitter is toxic, and that might go a long way to reflecting the atmosphere in Villa Park this coming weekend in some forms - the Villa following are growing impatient, and you can see why. Alex has compiled a list of people who could be line to replace Bruce - but we need to ask how long Wyness and co. will give Steve Bruce. Let’s take a look at some of these possibilities, so when could Steve Bruce go?
A toxic Villa Park is not a good thing, and Steve Bruce will experience this for the first time if his Villa stumble against Norwich on Saturday that could be a game which delivers three losses in a row for Villa. If people are calling for his head so viciously now, will that calm down if Villa are tonked by Norwich? No. The benefits of pulling the trigger mean that Villa can steer the ship, but this might be too soon for some, despite Bruce having a fair shake of the stick at Villa Park. Either way, the Norwich match could be the end, or the beginning of the end.
The international break
Aston Villa must play Norwich, Wigan in the cup and Bristol live on TV before they break up for a bit on the 25th of August. If things are not better by then, Villa could be propping the table up and Bruce will surely be out. The reality is that Villa might stumble to their feet and get going again, but seriously - something must be going on if Villa haven’t got rid of Bruce if we don’t get three points out of these games and progress in the cup. What’s more, the international break is a good time to hire a manager, since they aren’t chucked into battle straight away. Even then, the break could give Bruce the breathing time he needs to get something sorted out - but that might simply mean a stay of execution.
It’s likely that Steve Bruce lasts until October. The most likely scenario is that Villa stumble through to the end of September with the odd win amongst losses and draws which give Bruce a bit of space, but it won’t be enough. If Bruce’s Villa aren’t in the top ten by the end of September, one more bad result might put the nail in the coffin for Bruce’s time at AVFC. This gives Villa plenty of time to decide what to do, but it’s also ‘fair.’ The truth is that Bruce needs to turn Villa round quickly. The Reading match was dire, and a poor Villa performance. Bruce needs to be so much better than this, and if he isn’t, he’ll be gone within a week let alone October.
The end of the season
The Championship has evolved beyond Steve Bruce’s capabilities, at least that is what it seems. Who knows how this side will perform when Jedinak, Grealish and Kodjia are back? That might be Bruce’s saving grace and hey, he might pull it out of the bag - giving him a fairly hefty benefit of the doubt here. If Villa do get promoted on Steve Bruce’s work, he’s still gone - surely.
The thing is, Tony Xia isn’t going to sack Bruce because Barry, 41, from Perry Barr demanded Bruce’s head on a platter. We hate this, we do not like this - but Wyness and Xia know things are not going well - and they will pull the trigger when they need to, and only then. Our job? It’s to support the team regardless of the tripe we are served up - booing won’t help. That being said, Bruce might not have a whole lot of time left at Aston Villa.