Aston Villa travel to Ashton Gate to face Bristol City on Friday, with Steve Bruce under ever mounting pressure to turn Villa’s form and performances around. Bruce’s side head into the fixture in 13th place with 13 points from their opening nine matches.
Bristol City are only one point better off but five places higher in the table, and are a club not operating under the same pressures to get themselves promoted to the Premier League, as Aston Villa, who have invested heavily in recent seasons in a bid to return to the top-flight.
Aston Villa endured a hectic summer with lots of uncertainty surrounding the club’s financial future, and left Bruce needing to balance the books and unable to replace several loanees who were integral to Villa’s promotion bid last year. However, eventually new owners were found and Bruce found himself once again able to invest in his squad, John McGinn and Orjan Nyland were signed on permanent deals, with the likes of Anwar El Ghazi, Yannick Bolasie, Axel Tuanzebe and Tammy Abraham all arriving on loan.
Those additions along with Villa’s ability to keep Jack Grealish, who has just extended his contract at Villa Park, at the club amid Premier League interest, have added plenty of quality to Bruce’s squad. Therefore, supporters can reasonably expect to have seen much improved performances than Villa have been putting in so far. A run of just one win in their last seven Championship matches, in which Bruce has struggled to bring the best out of his attacking players and also struggle to organise his defence, has expectedly ramped up the pressure on the former Birmingham boss.
After a 2-1 defeat at home to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend Steve Bruce was typically defiant, alluding to the fact that it was only his sides 5th defeat at home in his 100 matches, and insisting that he will never walk away from the job. However, should Villa suffer a second successive loss the decision maybe taken out of Bruce’s hand by the new owners, with Thierry Henry already being heavily linked with the job should Bruce be sacked.
However, there is a case that Bruce should be given more time to turn around Villa’s fortunes, not least because of his record of securing more promotions from the Championship than any other manager. Also, he proved last season that after a difficult start he was able to turn around Villa’s form and reach the Championship play-off final. Although, the longer his sides current poor run of results and performances continue, the less of a case there will be to give him more time to turn things around.