Promotion still in Villa sights – Bruce

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce has won promotion from the Championship four times as a manager

Manager Steve Bruce believes he can win promotion to the Premier League with Aston Villa following his appointment, as he did with rivals Birmingham City.

Bruce, 55, twice led the Blues into the top flight, and is confident of repeating the feat at Villa who are currently 19th after 11 games.

“When you get offered a job in October, you know it’s because a club is in trouble,” he told BBC WM.

“There’s only one way for this club to go and that is up.”

Bruce has begun his reign by bringing in two other former Blues players, Stephen Clemence and Ian Atkins, to form his backroom team.

Clemence, son of former England goalkeeper Ray, was part of Bruce’s coaching staff at Sunderland and Hull City.

And he was in that first of the two promotion-winning Blues teams built by Bruce – one of his first key signings in the January window.

The vastly experienced, much-travelled Atkins is known not only to Bruce, but Villa chief executive Keith Wyness and technical director Steve Round from his connections at Everton.

The season starts here – Bruce

“It feels like the season’s starting all over again, said Wyness.

Teams have come back from further back than Villa to win promotion, and starting with two derby games in his first four matches – against Wolves on Saturday and Birmingham at St Andrew’s – Bruce shares that feeling of optimism in spite of the league position.

Previous boss Roberto do Matteo was scoffed at for saying they could still make the play-offs shortly before his departure but Bruce, with his promotion-winning record, is speaking from experience.

“If I’d don’t think I couldn’t do it, I wouldn’t be here,” he added.

“There’s no honeymoon period. We’ve got 35 games to go. That’s a lot of time to do something.

“When I came to Birmingham in 2001, we were 15th at Christmas and still got up via the play offs.

Villa’s late goals habit

Pierluigi Gollini<!–

Seven of the 12 league goals shipped by Villa this season have come in the final 10 minutes, costing them 10 points from winning positions.

“Let’s be honest, Villa could easily be nine or 10 points better off, if games lasted 85 minutes.” Bruce added.

“Is it a mentality thing? Or does it happen too many times to be a confidence. If you’ve only won four times in 50-odd games, people can get nervous.”

Bruce admits he cannot hide from the fact that he spent six mostly happy years at St Andrew’s – where he enjoyed success, but he achieved the same feat at Hull twice too.

And he wants his Blues days to be used as a source of inspiration, not as a millstone round his neck.

“I want to bring success to Villa, like we did at Birmingham,” he said.

“I’ve lived down here for the past 16 years. Some of my friends are Villa fans. Even my accountant’s a Villa fan. But also some of my friends are Blues fans – and that won’t change.”

Analysis on Bruce’s appointment

Steve Bruce interviewed by Mark Regan<!–

Steve Bruce is used to working with the west midlands media, having managed at Birmingham City.

BBC WM’s Villa reporter Mark Regan

“So, why did Steve Bruce get the job at Villa Park? Well, his impressive promotion record in the Championship would have been an obvious factor but I think there was something more persuasive that emerged during the interview process.

“There were other potential candidates, all drawn from a shortlist compiled by the hierarchy at Villa. Some of those were spoken to and sounded out about being the replacement for Roberto Di Matteo.

“But Bruce stood out. The reason? Commitment. He came across as putting the club’s goals first as he was willing to take on the challenge with no strings attached” – this impressed the owner Dr Tony Xia, who is desperate to see Villa promoted this season.

“Some may look back over his career and find reason to doubt. But, whatever the history, right here right now, Steve Bruce wants Aston Villa to be promoted just as much as any Villa fan.”

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