Steve Bruce: Aston Villa boss confident of promotion back to Premier League

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

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce believes he can win promotion to the Premier League with his new club, just as he did with rivals Birmingham City.

Bruce, 55, who twice led the Blues into the top flight, is confident that he can repeat 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.

"But there's only one way for this club to go and that is up."

Villa have begun this new reign by bringing in two other former Blues players, Stephen Clemence and Ian Atkins, to form Bruce's backroom team.

Clemence, son of former England goalkeeper Ray, who becomes Villa coach, was part of Bruce's coaching staff at Sunderland and Hull City.

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, who will be their new chief scout/head of European recruitment, is known not only to Bruce, but Villa chief executive Keith Wyness and technical director Steve Round from his connections at Everton.

Villa have confirmed the departure of three of previous boss Roberto di Matteo's backroom team, assistant manager Steve Clarke, who had initially been appointed caretaker boss, first-team coach Kevin Bond and goalkeeping coach Massimo Battara.

The season starts here - Bruce

"It feels like the season's starting all over again," says Villa CEO 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 on 30 October - Bruce shares that feeling of optimism, in spite of their league position.

Previous boss Roberto di 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

Aston Villa goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini has so far kept three clean sheets in 10 games
Seven of the 12 league goals shipped by Aston Villa this season have come in the final 10 minutes, costing them 10 points from winning positions.

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

"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 BBC WM's Villa reporter Mark Regan
Bruce is well 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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