By Richard Parks
Steve Bruce has admitted in an interview in the Times there was a “horrendous” wage bill and a culture of defeatism when he took over as manager of Aston Villa.
Bruce has steadied the ship since taking the reins in October 2016, when the Midlands giants were 19th in the Championship and he had become their fourth manager in a year.
Villa are third in the division and well placed to challenge for the second automatic promotion place that will secure a return to the Premier League two years after relegation.
“We’ve done OK,” Bruce told the Times. “We can’t get carried away. We’ve given ourselves an outstanding chance, which was the remit at the start, but there are two clubs in Sunderland and Hull, both of whom I’ve managed, newly relegated from the Premier League and in danger of dropping down again. That was my fear here and it was a real fear. We’d overspent. There was an horrendous wage bill.
“I’d walked away from a Premier League job, but once Villa knocked on my door, it was a no-brainer: great name, great club, great stadium, great fanbase. It’s a huge privilege to be here but a big challenge.
“The most important thing was to get stabilised. After a horrible few years, the whole club was just so used to getting beat. There was an acceptance of it.”
Football Insider verdict:
Bruce bares his soul in the moving Times interview as he copes with the grief of losing his father and his mother’s illness. His job is in the public and one he bears better than most through his resilience, fortitude and experience. The promotion expert is also the ideal man for the task ahead in the coming weeks, when he will need to draw upon all that battle-hardened nous to get the most from the troops who he has assembled for the task. With costs cut dramatically over the last two years, the deadwood cleared and the wage bill trimmed by £30million annually, Villa are in a better position to not only go up, but also stay there.
In other Aston Villa news, a key player at the club has refused to commit his future to Steve Bruce’s side after a shocking clause revealed.