Steve Bruce has become something of a promotion expert throughout his managerial career and he nearly proved his credentials once again last season before Aston Villa fell at the final hurdle in the playoff final, but just 9 fixtures into the new season his days at Villa Park are beginning to look rather uncertain.
He may not play the most entertaining brand of football but there’s no doubt that Bruce’s results speak for themselves; his direct style has enabled him to squeeze the best form out of limited squads throughout his career.
This season at Villa, though, Bruce has been afforded the privilege of working with a handful of talented players, including the likes of Yannick Bolasie, Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham and Anwar El Ghazi.
With that to consider, Villa should be nailed on to finish inside the playoff places this season – on paper at least.
But the start of the season has been rather underwhelming for the club and certain sections of the fan base are beginning to question Bruce’s credentials to lead the side.
It’s a classic case of catch-22 for Villa: they want to achieve promotion to the Premier League and Bruce’s record suggests he is well-placed to lead them into the top-flight, but they also want to see attractive football which often requires time and patience before it breeds positive results.
At this moment in time Bruce is the best man for the job and it would be foolish for Villa to make a knee-jerk decision if they fail to step up their form in the next few weeks, but it’s fair to say he is treading a thin line with an expectant fan base to impress.
The home defeat against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday afternoon was a result which produced fresh questions about Villa’s ability to compete with their promotion rivals, and it won’t take many more defeats against similar calibre opposition before the fans start turning out in their numbers to call for his departure.
Bruce faces an uncertain future at Villa Park following an unconvincing start from the club, but history would suggest that he possesses the tactical approach and the experience to prove his doubters wrong.
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