Aston Villa supporters have been pretty downbeat after seeing their side fail to get back to winning ways in the Championship on Tuesday night.
Steve Bruce’s men went into their clash with basement club Preston North End at Villa Park off the back of drawing 1-1 with Bristol City in their previous league outing, which meant that they had managed just one win in eight league games prior to the visit of Alex Neil’s Lilywhites on Tuesday. And despite leading 2-0 at half time through Jonathan Kodjia and Tammy Abraham, the Villans found themselves 3-2 down heading into the last few minutes, although Yannick Bolasie saved the hosts from a devastating defeat to secure a 3-3 draw for Bruce’s side.
Nonetheless, there have been many disappointed and angry Villa fans up and down the country in recent times, although some may be feeling slightly better after seeing that manager Bruce has been sacked by the club’s hierarchy on Wednesday.
And while it ended sourly for the 57-year-old given the increasing desire from the supporters for him to lose his job, there is little doubting that the Englishman deserves huge credit for his two-year stint in charge of the Midlands giants.
Ultimately, the former Birmingham City and Hull City boss came in at a time whereby things were declining rapidly at Villa Park – they had just been relegated from the Premier League, and the appointment of Roberto Di Matteo failed to work out.
Thus, Bruce inherited a side that was supremely low on confidence and had won just a handful of games in the preceding 12 months – the club at that time needed someone to come in a stabilise things, arrest the slide, and build a platform from which to move forward.
And while there were some bad moments that term, including a five-match losing streak between January and February, Bruce more than did that in steering the Villans to a 13th place finish – it could have been a whole lot worse.
And move forward they did by finishing fourth in the 2017/18 campaign – yes, they weren’t able to get over the line in losing 1-0 to Fulham in the play-off final back in May, but it was certainly progression from where they were just a matter of 12 months earlier.
Yes, the start of this season hasn’t been great, and the fans got more vocal as the results failed to improve, but on the whole Bruce did a decent job in helping to stabilise a club that were heading only one way when he took over, thus enabling them to push for promotion last term, and maybe this time round as well.
So while the decision was probably the right one, what with the results and indeed the performances not picking up in recent times, there is no doubt that Bruce deserves huge credit for the job he did in his two years at Villa Park.
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