Time for a Much Needed Change in Aston Villa’s Championship Philosophy

By Howard Hodgson

The Pride’s Future

Steve Bruce has done a lot of good work in restoring some club pride and putting together a dressing room that competed again. Despite trying personal circumstances behind-the-scenes, he’s never shied away from his job at Villa.

On the pitch, he went a certain way in trying to pull off the club’s goal of promotion. While he failed to pull off the initial goal of automatic promotion, he nearly pulled it off via the play-offs, but ultimately the 1-0 defeat at Wembley to Fulham, has to be seen as an expensive failure for Villa.

Without the support of the bulk of the parachute payments and problems with FFP, I can’t see his methods working at all, moving forward.

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Championship Levels

The grim economics of the situation are that we are now a Championship club, on Championship income. We are going to have to do what Fulham and Cardiff have managed this season, which is promotion on far less resources. It will be much harder, but as they have proved, it’s not impossible.

We have to be far more inventive, more attack-minded and inject far more pace into the side. It won’t be easy. We’ve had an embarrassment of riches for this division since we’ve been relegated and that will now change but if we coach well and trust youth as Fulham did.

It can be done, but not with Bruce. He just isn’t capable of delivering that, in my opinion.

People will say “stability” and Neil Warnock managed it the “old fashioned way” but Neil Warnock had pace in his team. We didn’t.

The reality is there will be huge change to the squad anyway, due to the economics of the situation and we all agreed he had to deliver promotion. He hasn’t.

If he can’t deliver it with that embarrassment of riches for the Championship, he won’t next season. It will now be a different financial landscape from what it’s been in the first two seasons in the division.

Xia put everything into getting promotion in this parachute period and we’ve failed.

Bruce relies on defensive organisation and individual talent to get him a goal. With a lot of players like Snodgrass, Terry and Johnstone going, that talent pool will be seriously diluted, so I don’t see him working going forward at all.

Opinion of Change

We all have opinions and this is just mine. Bruce had a good crack at it, but ultimately he came up short and that was largely down to a lack of tactical awareness needed to combat different opponents – the play-off final was a shining example of that.

Now, we have to revert to a longer term building policy and create a team like Fulham have. That’s what I would want for us, anyway.


Follow Howard on Twitter here: @HodgsonHoward

Below, Howard discusses the aftermath of the Wembley disappointment:


These supporter opinion pieces are not necessarily the views of My Old Man Said

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  1. keep reading about how gutted some players are following the Fulham defeat. The only man within the team who qualifies to be gutted is Grealish as he ran his Villa heart out. The others will be wearing a different jersey next season and picking up a decent wage packet to suit, Wembley defeat soon forgotten.Sorry to say it but that’s what I saw on the Wembley pitch on Saturday. And, of course, as season follows season, the loyal faithful fans will not be changing colours.

  2. great article. for me steve bruce (and his team) have had the chance and failed, getting rid of the loan signing (terry snoddy wheelan grabbon) can only be positive (wages and performances) the keeper can be replaced. its quite simple really just get the right manager in. oh we just need to keep jack, chester, and hutton. and build a team with young talent.

  3. The Club needs a Manager who will set up the team to win games and not set up not to lose games as Steve Bruce does If Bruce remains as Manager the `Club has no chance of promotion as he will not change his thoughts and tactics no matter how poor they are

  4. I go along with the conclusion everyone appears to be settled on.

    A new man at the helm would better serve the side. With a gradual influx of younger players, who will bring more energy and mobility, a coach who can povide more tactical direction is required.

    Dean Smith has done a great job at Brentford with limited resources and looks a good fit.

    For me, we have lacked down middle of the park this term and with a reliance on wingers working off their wrong flank, the team has lost impetus at times. Snoddy and Albert did well, but we could become a bit predictable and pedestrian. I just don’t think Bruce has it in him to adapt.

  5. With respect to Steve Bruce a decent person who has suffered tragic losses, he has no doubt tried his hardest but now failed twice, and sadly it’s time for a change so I would agree with fellow supporters and go for Dean Smith a clean slate with several enforced changes to the squad, but personally I believe that Jack Grealish should stay and we should build a team around him, we still have Green, Davis, and O’Hare just to name a few. Just to repeat again it’s all gone stale now so let’s change things.

  6. Kev Mac did not succeed last time he stepped up . But we do have Colin Calderwood who might step up . I think folk need to think long & hard @ what staff Bruce has & whether they will stay if a new manager comes in
    As for the players I am concerned especially after Saturday & what I noted towards the end of the 1st half when Terry appeared to switch roles with Jedi & try to lead the team in attack . Certainly after half time Jedi played much higher up the pitch although I’d have been happier if Bjarnason had played as DM from the start . However I do wonder what is written into some of our players contracts & if they have some rights to start if fit

  7. Sorry Steve but you’re on a rolling contract because you thought you were going to get the England job and you’ve had almost two seasons to sort it out so I would go with appointing Kevin MacDonald as caretaker manager now then approach Dean Smith / Gary Rowett etc.

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