Thoughts and issues regarding the past and present of a great football club by "The Chronicler".

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

One Year After...

On October 12, Steve Bruce will celebrate his first year in managerial charge at Aston Villa. But it has not been an easy year for him nor the fans, and the team has been changed a good deal. Of di Matteo's last team, only Hutton, Chester, Jedinak, Adomah and Grealish are survivors, and only two of those were at Villa before di Matteo arrived. Clearly, Bruce was not happy with what he found to be in place, though he had no option but to continue with the same squad until the next transfer window, the following January.

To say that Bruce has done a magnificent job would be an over-the-top statement, but, being the very experienced English player and manager that he has been, he did not take long to determine that attitudes at the club were not right and, one way or another, sought to change matters. There have been many arguments amongst fans as to whether the club should have taken the opportunity to rebuild from the club's academy, and we will never know now whether that would have been the better way, but even if Bruce's instinct is not to overly rely on youth, it may well have been that circumstances in the club were not at their best for that approach to work well, particularly given the Chairman's requirement for promotion to be attained within two seasons of his takeover. Clearly, the Chairman decided (based on scrupulously derived evidence) that Bruce was the best available person to manage the team in order to satisfy that target.

Despite the occasional good 'runs' during the remainder of the 2016-17 season, and another heavy round of expenditure in January, the jury was still very much 'out' (from the fans' viewpoint) on Bruce's suitability. But, after a stuttering start to the season, some rhythm has been established.

How Bruce's actions are to be viewed is, of course, open to be read by every individual, but I read it that Bruce has been disappointed by the lack of commitment from players in certain quarters. Among those would even appear to be Hutton and Adomah, who, when re-introduced, have clearly tried to raise their game. By the sheer expediency of bringing in fresh hard-working players, the existing staff have seen that they have to raise their bar to get attention.

And that's how I see Bruce's main achievement. The reintroduction of an honest work ethic that I have felt was disappearing before Bruce appeared on the scene. And so long as that ethic can be maintained then the target of promotion for this season becomes more likely.

To those who fear something may be being lost in this process, I share the reservation, but perhaps the proverbial kick in the pants was, in fact, the necessary thing to blow away the cobwebs before anything else could be attempted. We will see.

Meanwhile, may the club's collection of points continue apace.

Onwards and upwards!

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