Steve Bruce served as Aston Villa manager for 2 years, managing the club for over 100 games. In fact, Bruce had the best win rate (45.1%) since Graham Taylor’s first stint as manager back between 1987 -1990. So, where did it all go wrong for the promotion specialist? Simple answer in that there was no promotion.

In my opinion Steve Bruce did bring a level of stability to the club and despite the failings of the play-off final last season, had my full backing. That said the last 10 games my mood, like everyone else’s had changed. I think a combination of poor results and poor performances contributed to his departure, however I think the lack of game plan and tactics contributed more. Leaving us so short defensively was the biggest concern and I think this was proven with the 1 clean sheet (Rotherham) in our last last 10 games. Steve Bruce, I thank you for your efforts and wish you all the best for the future.

It’s arguable that villa have not always made the best management appointments. You have only got to think about the likes McLeish and Garde, With the club now appointing their 8th manager in 8 years what can Dean Smith offer that can give us any indication that our fortunes could be about to turn?

Dean Smith is one of our own:

How often does a boyhood fan get to manage the club they grew up supporting? This is my opinion, is a major plus in the recruitment of Dean smith. Dean will know what the fans want to see and no doubt as a fan himself will do everything he can to lead us on a promotion push.

The return of John Terry:

John Terry returns to Villa park as the new assistant manager and most will say that JT can still do a job in defence, especially give how short we are. Though Terry will not be playing and has no management experience, we all know the presence he has in the dressing room and this will be Vital in supporting Dean Smith and the squad going forward

Playing Style:

We can all admire the attractive, slick, attacking football that Brentford played under Dean Smith, just to see an element of this style of football at our club would warm the souls of many.

Fringe players and youth:

Scott Hogan, remember where Villa signed him from? I have no doubt that Dean smith will be keen to give the striker a much-needed confidence boost and get him playing like he did at Brentford. Injuries and Bruce’s playing style have meant that we are yet to see the best of Scotty but I have little doubt that he will feature heavily in Dean’s future plans. Dean is also a manager who likes to promote within. This means that the likes of Callum O’Hare can be assured that opportunities will come their way

Jack Grealish:

It’s amazing to see that we have been fortunate enough to get Jack to sign a new contract for the next 5 years, however it’s fair to say that we are yet to see the best of Jack so far this season. I think a big part of this is due to the fact Bruce has been playing Jack out wide on occasions and has not been utilising him through the middle. Dean Smith will know where Jack’s strengths are and will utilise them.

If it’s part of Dean Smith’s planning, I think the link up play in the final third with Hogan and Grealish can be something we all look forward to. Remembering back to last season when Villa beat the Blues both Grealish and Hogan were standout performers that day, so I have little doubt it can work. We also have a whole host of attacking options with the likes of Abraham, Jonathan Kodjia and Yannick Bolasie. If these players are playing to their strengths and natural positions, we will get the best out of them.

Dean Smith will need some time to get the club playing the way he wants and I for one are not expecting miracles, in fact I would suggest the first few months are going to be tough. Our defence is a major concern and it is not like we have any alternatives, Bruce has really left us short here. We will have to wait until January before this can be addressed.

What is certain though is that there is a sense of optimism around the club again and whilst my feet are firmly on the ground, I can’t help but feel excited for the future of our great club.

UTV