Despite leading Aston Villa to the play-off final last season, pressure was mounting on Steve Bruce from the early stages of the season and he paid the ultimate price for an unconvincing opening as he was dismissed on Wednesday afternoon following a 3-3 draw against Preston North End.
The popularity of a football manager can be transformed almost instantaneously by just a handful of results but, for plenty of Villa supporters, it was Bruce’s style of play – as well as the results – which encouraged one supporter to throw a cabbage in his direction on Wednesday.
It turned out to be the last major landmark moment in Bruce’s Villa career as he found himself out of a job the following day, despite the fact his side almost clinched three points with the final kick of the game.
One can only assume that the manner in which Villa capitulated against Preston combined with a run which has seen the Villans clinch just 1 win from 10 fixtures was enough to convince the owners to part company with a manager who is well proven at this level.
The decision has divided opinion in the British media, but one man who is firmly of the opinion that it was a harsh, knee-jerk decision is Dean Saunders.
Whilst speaking on talkSPORT on Thursday, Saunders stated: “it’s like being in the Grand National in the Championship, it’s a long race and as long as you stay in there or thereabouts, you know with them players they’re gonna go ten games on the bounce, winning.”
Saunders was eager to point out that “there is no one more qualified to manage Aston Villa than Steve Bruce” and, whilst he certainly has grounds to stand up in Bruce’s defence, his claim that Villa will win ten games on the bounce due to the strength of their squad actually serves to legitimise the board’s decision.
Although Saunders is trying to defend Bruce he is actually legitimising the case for his dismissal: if Villa’s squad are good enough to win ten games on the bounce then why have they only won 1 from 10 under Bruce’s stewardship?
Villa certainly have the quality to win promotion back to the Premier League this season and time will tell whether the owners have made a smart decision, but with Bruce at the helm they were showing little sign of mounting a genuine promotion charge and, with ambitious new owners to appease, it’s difficult to argue with the decision.
Aston Villa fans – thoughts on Saunders’ verdict? Let us know below!
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