By Amir Mir

Dean Saunders has claimed the Aston Villa dressing room was split into three groups of players under former manager Roberto Di Matteo.

The Italian was sacked by club chief Tony Xia on October 3, after 124 days in charge of the Championship club.

Di Matteo purchased nine players during the summer transfer window, spending over £50 million, including breaking the Championship transfer record on two occasions.

But former Villa striker Saunders believes Di Matteo already had a difficult task at the recently-relegated Midlands club, even before he walked into the doors at Bodymoor Heath.

“Di Matteo has walked into that club and there will be three different groups of players, that he’s trying to bond together,” Saunders told TalkSport, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail. “There’s a group of players that haven’t done very well and they know you’re trying to get rid of them – so they’re not motivated.

“Then you’ve got a group of players who think they should be in the Premier League. So they’re waiting for a club to come in for them.

“Then you bring your new players in. You’re trying to get that group knitted together to get a winning start in the Championship.”

Villa appointed former Birmingham City and Hull City boss Steve Bruce as manager on Wednesday.

The former centre-back has the task of guiding a club that is 19th in the Championship, with ten points from 11 games, to a difficult top six finish at the end of the campaign.

Bruce’s first game in charge will be against Midlands rivals Wolves on Saturday evening, with a visit to fierce rivals Birmingham on October 30.

In other Aston Villa team news, supporters have reacted angrily after Steve Bruce his this 29-year-old a fresh start at the club.