Steve Bruce in Denial as he Benefits Once Again from Player Injury (Illness)

Mass Hysteria Part Deux

After the Aston Villa’s 1-0 away win at Middlesbrough, Villa boss Steve Bruce once again repeated his claims of “mass hysteria” (a mantra he also used at Sunderland) with pointed comments aimed at some Villa fans before admitting Tommy Elphick only played today due to Glenn Whelan’s illness.

“We had a bad 45 minutes against Brentford and all of a sudden we’re spiralling into crisis,” said the Villa boss, who surprisingly seemingly forgot that Villa were winless in five and had slumped out of the play-offs and into 9th, before the Boro game.

While it’s understandable that Bruce would take the opportunity to be bullish after a win, surely he understands that this wasn’t just “mass hysteria” after just a bad week?

At the start of the season, Bruce’s call of “mass hysteria” to #BruceOut when Villa struggled in their opening three games was warranted, as he hadn’t played his best XI and had several new players still finding their feet. This December though, there was very good reason indeed for supporters to question the lack of progression and signs of last season repeating itself.

Judging by the recent worried tweets by both the club owner and CEO, it would seem to be more than fair comment for any rational Villa supporter to be concerned about the club’s recent form.

Bruce bizarrely mentioned being 2-0 up against Sheffield United, before making a couple of mistakes, as a positive fact.

“It was only a game and a half a go we were 2-0 up against Sheffield United,” said the Villa boss.

It’s MOMS book that’s called throwing a home game away after going 2-0 up.

Out of Position

The reason for United’s comeback was firmly at the feet of Mile Jedinak playing at centre-back, who directly gifted the Blades two goals through elementary errors.

The worrying thing is despite this and Jedinak’s other previous decidingly casual performance at centre-back against Derby, Bruce had intended to once again play Jedinak at centre-back against Boro, unperturbed by the Australian’s mistakes which have cost Villa points in December.

Speaking after the 1-0 win at Boro, Bruce sang the praises of Tommy Elphick, but admitted he wasn’t on the teamsheet when he drew it up the night before the game.

Elphick was a late switch, after the Villa boss had become aware of Whelan’s illness, with Jedinak selected to cover the Irish midfielder’s absence at DM, while Elphick was drafted in at centre-back.

Against Boro, Elphick was one of Villa’s better players and played a big part in earning Villa the win, as did Jedinak playing in the DM berth.

While in his post-match interview, Bruce once again bemoaned injuries as the excuse to why Villa had floundered in recent games (what about the real reasons?), the irony is Bruce has also been aided by injuries throughout the season so far.

Injury Positives

Did Bruce really think Jedinak at CB and Whelan at DM, after their recent performances was a better option than Elphick at CB and Jedinak at DM?

If so, then he is lucky Whelan was ill.

Add to that, the impact Keinan Davis had on galvanising the team after its poor start to the season, when Bruce was forced to pick him, after his first choice Kodjia replacement Gabby Agbonlahor failed to produce the goods before his latest injury struck.

Then for the best example, you only have to look at Albert Adomah. The former Middlesbrough player looked like he was potentially on his way out after Bruce got in Ahmed Elmohamady and Robert Snodgrass as a double option to play in his right-hand side midfield position.

It was only after Andre Green and Jack Grealish’s injuries that Adomah was slotted in on the left, as a makeshift left-winger, that he hit a goalscoring hot streak.

It’s clear at times Villa’s injuries have forced better decisions than some of the ones that Bruce have made on his own volition.

With this in mind, surprisingly MOMS is now more concerned by Bruce’s comments after a victory then what he’s said after recent defeats.

Surely rather than hit out and make excuses, it’s better just to acknowledge the pressure after a month of below par results and crack on with it?

After all, a home win against Bristol City on the back of the Boro home win, would claw back a few lost December points and quiet the concern about Villa’s promotion challenge.


The next MOMS podcast episode will certainly be interesting. Subscribe below to the show on Apple/iTunes



  1. Steve Bruce should know better than to criticise fans who travel in large numbers to godforsaken places like Boro away and continue to turn up at Villa park despite the indifferent quality of what’s on offer. No matter how good or poor the performance, he simply puts pressure on himself by doing this, especially with an owner like Tony Xia who seems to like to be liked by the fans. In any event I doubt whether we are good enough to go up – and even if we do shudder to think what will happen to this team in the Prem without a massive investment of funds and a more modern playing ethos.

  2. During the post match interview, Bruce looked like he’d been through the mill and was clearly feeling the pressure. Even Alex Bruce cheered the goal while guesting on Final Score and said his Dad needed that goal after the last few weeks. After being a manager for 850 odd games I would have expected Bruce to have learned what not to say in front of the cameras, not give the fans stick and lower his guard like he did, spitting fire. Although he is a football man I think he lacks the intelligence needed to be a truly successful manager. His coaching staff are not up to it either, based on Villa’s performances even when we win. After all, they are the ones who are on the training pitch, day in day out. Steve Agnew hasn’t added anything new to our play even though Bruce was gushing about his addition to the coaching team 2 weeks ago.The win only papers over the cracks for me, if Middlesbrough were truly up for it yesterday, we would have lost. Having said all that, I do like Bruce but more as an uncle figure who you can sit down with, watch Match of the Day and have a good old natter about football. I don’t trust him with getting Villa playing decent football anytime soon or automatic promotion. We should get in the play offs though and maybe ride luck and get promoted with him at best.

  3. Just by Bruce saying Elphick wasn’t even on the team sheet yesterday just proves what an incompetent arse he really is. He’s filled the squad with over the hill players who are happy to take the money.

  4. it’s true bruce has been lucky- jedinak should never play cb again & whelan should have been dropped anyway. to bolster your arguemnet further – imo grealish won that game with composure & a touch of class & he was only on because of onomah injury. he often dictated the pace & i don’t think gave the ball away once.

  5. i like bruce becauase he is the most honest manager in modern football, he seams to be a great man nmanager, but his tactics (playing the most defencive line up he can get away with) and personell (the how good you are or how good you play dosent matter, if you are a/ bad but can sit b/strong and work hard, you are as much as garenteed a place, if you are any good in terms of skill or perrformances going forward but don’t fit the mold, your in and out or left out

  6. Bruce just plain lucky Elphick was on his way out until Whelans illness now we see what a good player he is, finally O’Hare on the bench, but he should have been on the pitch. Still don’t rate Bruce who is having a go at the fans again. Good result today but I don’t have any confidence in Bruce. Let’s hope we can keep it up against Bristol City next Monday

    • totally agree, we could rip through this league with greilish and ohare, maybe playing some combo of hourhan jedinak onoma deeper

  7. dont forget about onoma up front and how well that worked out,,,, cough etc,, im really glad we won today,, but bruce just scares me at times,,,, almost bordering on incompetence and delusional,,,,
    im not a bruce hater,,, i want him to get us up this season,,, but he is riding his luck and its running out
    today i should be happy but my gut feelings of doom wont go away,,,,
    the big test is if he leaves whelan out,,, as he needs a spell practicing his passing,,, he can always come on against city to sure things up,,, and create chances for the opposition obviously but as hogan will get a hatrick it wont matter so much,,,,

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