As­ton Villa hire Bruce in bid to re­turn to Premier League

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

As­ton Villa have named for­mer Hull City and Birm­ing­ham City boss Steve Bruce as their new man­ager.

For­mer Manch­ester United cap­tain Bruce, 55, who left Hull in July, suc­ceeds Roberto di Mat­teo, who was sacked on 3 Oc­to­ber, at Villa Park.

Bruce, who has lived in the Mid­lands since first join­ing Birm­ing­ham as a player in 1996, takes over with Villa 19th in the Cham­pi­onship ta­ble.

His first game in charge is at home to lo­cal ri­vals Wolves on Satur­day.

Bruce will be­come the sixth man to pick the Villa team in­side the last 12 months.

He then has matches against Read­ing and Ful­ham be­fore re­turn­ing to St An­drew’s for the Blues-Villa derby on Sun­day, 30 Oc­to­ber in only his sec­ond away match.

“It is one of the big clubs of this coun­try,” said Bruce. “To be given the op­por­tu­nity to man­age it is ter­rific.

“I rel­ish the chal­lenge of try­ing to take the club where it wants to go and needs to be - and try to turn around the mis­for­tune we seem to have had over the past few years.”

Villa will be­gin life un­der Bruce 10 points be­hind Birm­ing­ham, the team oc­cu­py­ing the last of the four play-off places in sixth.

Bruce’s man­age­rial record

Northum­ber­land-born Bruce is into his 19th sea­son in man­age­ment, in which he has taken charge of 784 matches with eight clubs, win­ning pro­mo­tion in each of his last four sea­sons at this level.

That fol­lowed a 20-year play­ing ca­reer at Gilling­ham, Nor­wich City, Manch­ester United and Birm­ing­ham be­fore fin­ish­ing as player-man­ager at Sh­effield United.

After his first sea­son in man­age­ment at Bra­mall Lane, he spent 17 months with Hud­der­s­field, and had short spells in charge of Wi­gan and Crys­tal Palace be­fore be­com­ing Birm­ing­ham man­ager in De­cem­ber 2001.

Tak­ing over a Blues side in 10th po­si­tion, he led them up via the play-offs that sea­son to reach the Premier League for the first time. And, although rel­e­gated in their fourth sea­son, he took them straight back up in 2007.

He re­turned to Wi­gan after leav­ing St An­drew’s in Novem­ber 2007, then had two and a half years at Sun­der­land, be­fore join­ing Hull in 2012.

Bruce, who led Hull to the FA Cup fi­nal in 2014, twice won pro­mo­tion with the Tigers to the Premier League, the sec­ond time via the Cham­pi­onship play-offs in May - his fourth pro­mo­tion to English foot­ball’s top flight.

He was in­ter­viewed for the Eng­land job be­fore the ap­point­ment of Sam Al­lardyce in July.

Villa’s man­age­rial mer­rygo-round

Tim Sher­wood: Fe­bru­ary to Oc­to­ber 2015

Kevin MacDonald (care­taker): Oc­to­ber to Novem­ber 2015

Remi Garde: Novem­ber 2015 to March 2016

Eric Black (care­taker): March to June 2016

Roberto di Mat­teo: June to Oc­to­ber 2016

Villa turned to for­mer Cham­pi­ons League win­ner Di Mat­teo after be­ing rel­e­gated from the Premier League last sea­son.

How­ever, the ex-West Bromwich Al­bion and Chelsea boss was sacked after 124 days in charge fol­low­ing a run of one win in 11 Cham­pi­onship matches.

Steve Clarke, who served as Di Mat­teo’s as­sis­tant and as care­taker fol­low­ing his sack­ing, was on the club’s list of can­di­dates for the role.

“Villa care­taker boss Clarke was highly rated by the re­cruit­ment team of Keith Wy­ness, Villa’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, for­mer Villa man­ager Brian Lit­tle and tech­ni­cal direc­tor Steve Round.

“But Round has known Bruce for a long time, ad­mired him for a long time and has al­ways wanted to work with him.

“He has mas­sive ex­pe­ri­ence four pro­mo­tions from the Cham­pi­onship to the Premier League. A safe pair of hands. Also, he has that per­son­al­ity, that af­fa­bil­ity.

“He is just the man they need at the mo­ment com­pared with the aloof Di Mat­teo. I sus­pect Bruce will be bring­ing his own peo­ple in as well.

“And how in­ter­est­ing it is go­ing to be on 30 Oc­to­ber when Bruce takes Villa to his for­mer side Birm­ing­ham City?”

Steve Bruce

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