Steve Bruce: A man under pressure?by Simon Lillicrap / 14 February 2017, 12:05Tweet
Steve Bruce may have only been in the Aston Villa hot seat for four months but he is already a man under pressure. We analyse his chances at succeeding at the former European Champions.
Villa are in terrible form. They are yet to win in 2017 and have lost six out of their last eight games. This horrendous run of form has seen them slip to 16th in the Championship with just eight wins all season. This is after spending a total of £61 million on transfers in both windows, with the plan to bounce straight back to the Premier League. At the moment, they are closer to League One than that initial goal.
Our poll suggests that 64% of Villa fans feel Bruce in under pressure:
Now it would be unfair to blame Bruce for the whole of Villa’s underwhelming season seeing as he was only appointed on the 12th October, so let us analyse their form since then.
When he took over from Roberto Di Matteo, Villa were 20th in the table with 10 points from 11 games. Life at Villa Park started very well for Bruce as his side went on a seven-game unbeaten run in what could have been his honeymoon period.
A couple of defeats followed in the next few games but by Boxing Day Bruce had Villa up to 10th with 34 points from 23 games. They were just six points off the play-offs and looked set to make an assault on the top-6 in the second-half of the season.
However, since beating Burton on Boxing Day Villa have fallen away dramatically and failed to win any of their eight games in all competitions. The signings of Conor Hourihane from Barnsley, Neil Taylor from Swansea, and the big money move for Brentford forward Scott Hogan were all meant to invigorate the team as they hunted for promotion, but instead it has led to the squad looking like a bunch of misfits.
Bruce’s overall record since taking charge reads: Played 20, won 7, drawn 5, lost 8. This gives him a win percentage of 35%. This is significantly better than predecessors Di Matteo and Remi Garde but not quite as good as Tim Sherwood who managed a win percentage of 35.71% whilst in the Premier League.
Some fans would like to see the former manager return...
@thesackrace Bring Tim Sherwood back ! His way of playing would suit the league. Far more entertaining than this dross. We'd outscore teams— Niall Donlan (@AvfcDonlan1874) February 14, 2017
However, Swindon Town have not reaped the benefits of having Sherwood involved in their setup. Since he joined the club as a director of football the club have won just 17.6% of their games.
Villa’s owner Dr Tony Xia will be wanting Premier League football back at Villa Park sharpish after all his investment but it is not going to happen this season. Many Villa fans are disappointed with the lack of attacking football they are seeing given the amount the club has spent on attacking talent.
Bruce does have a successful history in the Championship, gaining promotion with Hull (x2) and Birmingham (x2) so he does have the know how to get out of the division. Given a bit more time with a whole pre-season with his players he may be able to mount a promotion charge next term.
However, summer is still a long way off. This season, Villa look set for a mid-table finish but if they continue this dreadful form then they could slide into the relegation battle which would spell disaster for both the club and Bruce.