By 90Min
October 04, 2018

In just over a week's time Steve Bruce would have been celebrating his two-year anniversary as Aston Villa manager. However, that that occasion will not occur after he was sacked by the club on Wednesday.

The veteran boss will have struggled to sleep the night before his sacking after his side were involved in one of the most dramatic nights of his 20-year managerial career. 

Villa recorded a 3-3 draw at home to bottom-of-the-table Preston, with Glenn Whelan missing a 97th-minute penalty and a supporter throwing a cabbage at Bruce, after they blew a two-goal lead.

There were chants of 'Bruce out' from from the Holte End, and when you unravel the former Sunderland boss' time at the club, you can understand the supporters' frustration.  


After being appointed as Villa manager by then-owner Dr. Tony Xia on October 12, 2016, it seemed a wise move from the Chinese businessman as Villa languished in the bottom half of the Championship table, following relegation from the Premier League. 

The pressure was on Bruce from the first moment he took office. His experience initially helped steady the ship at Villa Park, but after nearly two years the four-time promotion winner, who found the cabbage-throwing fan 'disrespectful', hit the iceberg. 

Despite boasting the most expensive squad ever seen in the second-tier of English football, Bruce failed to mount a real challenge for the top two, and in the end, his side had to settle for a playoff place. 

Bruce's inability to express a style of play at Villa Park was one problematic issue behind their failure to finish above Champions Wolves, defensively-sound Cardiff, or beat the possession-based Fulham side at Wembley in the playoff final in May. 

The former Manchester United man seemingly had everything at his disposal from a squad perspective. From proven Premier League players to highly-rated starlets from the academy, individuals who have experienced promotion before, players who have played in the Champions League and on the international stage even. 

Therefore, when Bruce would come out and say he 'doesn't know why' he cannot play two up top, a tactic he has deployed throughout his managerial career, then you can understand the supporters anger, especially when it played a part in their failed promotion. 

In May, Villa were 90 minutes away from the promised land, but Tom Cairney's first-half strike for Fulham pushed the Midlands outfit to near capitulation off the field. 

Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/GettyImages

They were weeks away from entering administration but were saved by billionaire investors Wes Edens and Naseef Sawaris. Their near-financial meltdown meant that they lost captain John Terry, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, striker Lewis Grabban and winger Robert Snodgrass. 

However, with the injection of new life from the billionaire owners, Bruce was able to compete in the transfer market and bring in a number of high-quality players. From Chelsea's Tammy Abraham to £6million signing John McGinn, Villa were able to add extra bite to their recently-depleted squad. 

Compared with the likes of Brentford and Bristol City, who also lost key players during the summer such as Aiden Flint, Bobby Ried, Ryan Woods, and Joe Bryan, to name a few. Villa were, at the very least, able to add a higher-quality of player than their Championship rivals. 

Despite the new influx in talent, Bruce's tactics were once again the main topic of discussion in the now hostile and ever-growing concerned class. 

Marcelo Bielsa's top-of-the-table Leeds are showcasing their high-pressing style of play under their new manager despite the Argentine only being in the job for a few months. After getting outthought by Wolves last season, Bruce was once again proving to be clueless at his job in hand compared to his counterparts. 

From allowing centre-back Tommy Elphick to leave on loan, playing a midfielder at centre back, a right back at left back, another defender on the flanks, and star man Jack Grealish out of position. 

Bruce, on a number of occasions, was left wondering why his side had kept only one clean sheet this season and why they had recorded only one win from their last nine matches.

Truthfully, after his sacking, Bruce should look in the mirror because he has only himself to blame.

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