Aston Villa Boss Steve Bruce Reveals What Made Him Resist 4-4-2 System for So Long

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Steve Bruce has explained why it has taken him so long to implement a traditional 4-4-2 formation as Aston Villa manager.

The Villans boss was quoted in the Birmingham Mail as he revealed that, whilst he had harboured hopes of employing such a system earlier in his career at Villa Park, the club's possible relegation to League One made him hold off on making that move.

Villa were in danger of falling into England's third tier last season as they battled to maintain their Championship status, and Bruce admitted that grave concerns over keeping his club up had meant that 4-4-2 wasn't a realistic option during the 2016/17 season.


He said: "If you look at my managerial career that's the one thing I try. Of course you get injuries, you get suspensions and you get loss of form but you stick to a system.

"I make no bones about it, when I arrived here 10 months ago I didn't think we could be open and expansive. I wanted to stay in the division, daft as that may seem.

"The club was on such a slippery slope that I thought I've got to get a team that is difficult to beat, difficult to play against, grind out a few results and try and turn it round a bit. Thats the way I set it up."

The 56-year-old took charge in the Midlands in October 2016 following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo, and set about overturning his team's fortunes with just one league accrued at the time. Villa eventually finished a comfortable 13th in the standings last season, and currently lie ninth with 13 points so far this term.

Bruce has reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation in recent league games against Barnsley and Nottingham Forest - matches which have gleaned six points from six - and, ahead of Tuesday's encounter with Burton Albion, stated why he would continue to play with two up top for the foreseeable future.

He added: "I've always played two strikers, whether it's three at the back or 4-4-2 or whatever. The Hull team I got up with played 4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1 if you like.

"The time before that three at the back and two strikers. It's one thing that I always want to do. We've now got the players I think to cope with it."