Well, Aston Villa’s chances of gaining promotion straight back to the Premier League just increased.
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On Wednesday they named Steve Bruce, 55, as their new manager as the promotion expert will sink his teeth into an almighty challenge at Villa Park.
Bruce has won promotion on each of his last four seasons in the Championship, English soccer’s second-tier, but this may be his biggest test to date.
In the past the former Manchester United captain, in his 19th season as a manager, twice guided Birmingham City and Hull City to promotion to the PL, while he’s also manager Sunderland and Wigan Athletic in the Premier League and he took Hull to the FA Cup final in 2014.
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With Villa currently 19th in the Championship table and 10 points off the final playoff spot, Bruce is ready for the challenge to wake up a sleeping giant.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity. It is one of the big clubs of this country. To be given the opportunity to manage it is terrific,” Bruce told Villa’s website. “I relish the challenge of trying to take the Club where it wants to go and needs to be – and try to turn around the misfortune we seem to have had over the past few years. I am absolutely delighted to have been given the chance. I hope I can do my stuff.”
We all know Villa are a huge club and former champions of England and Europe but at the moment they’re in disarray.
Bruce’s appointment comes after Roberto Di Matteo was fired by new Chinese owner Dr Tony Xia following a dreadful start to the current season. Bruce’s first game in charge will be a massive Midlands derby against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, and he becomes Villa’s sixth manager in the past 12 months after Tim Sherwood, Kevin MacDonald (caretaker), Remi Garde, Eric Black (caretaker) and Di Matteo.
Simply put, Villa has played it safe.
Bruce knows all about getting teams out of the second-tier — he stayed with Hull after their relegation in 2015 and brought them back up to the PL last season via the playoffs before leaving after a fallout with the owners — and he worked wonders with Villa’s bitters rivals Birmingham City from 2001 to 2007. Now he has switched allegiance in England’s second city and although his talent as a manager is undoubted (up until recently he was in the running for the England job) it will be intriguing to see how Villa’s fans take to him.
He is old school and he gets results. After several seasons of misery, the latter is the only thing Villa’s owner, fans and players care about.