Steve Bruce: Aston Villa departure was 'one of the most unsavoury times of my career'

Steve Bruce, former Aston Villa manager
Steve Bruce was sacked four months after Villa's defeat to Fulham in the 2018 Championship play-off final

Steve Bruce has described his final days as Aston Villa manager as "one of the most unsavoury times of my career".

Now in charge of Newcastle United, Bruce was sacked by the Midlands club in October 2018, four months after losing the Championship play-off final.

His relationship with the Villa fans turned sour, with one supporter throwing a cabbage at Bruce before his final game in charge.

"The fans can throw some things, but a cabbage?" said Bruce.

"I went the next day so I didn't have time to get angry. It was one of the most unsavoury times of my career."

Bruce guided Villa into the Championship play-offs in his first full season in charge, only for Villa to lose 1-0 to Fulham at Wembley.

They then endured a difficult summer with a change of ownership and uncertainty over the playing squad, and Bruce was sacked after 11 games last season with Villa 12th in the league.

But the 58-year-old admitted that coping with Villa's stark financial problems in 2018 was difficult.

"We didn't know if we were going to get paid in May and June. It was practically close to the wall," he said.

"It never got that far but there was a threat at the end of the month that we couldn't pay the wages.

"It was the worst and probably the most difficult six weeks after the play-off game, it was unrivalled from where we were."

Bruce endured a poor start to his Newcastle tenure after joining the Magpies from Sheffield Wednesday in July, but a run of seven points from a possible nine has lifted the Magpies away from the relegation zone in recent weeks as he takes them to Villa Park on Monday evening.

'I have a lot of respect for Steve'

Villa manager Dean Smith says he has an "awful lot of respect" for Bruce and was unhappy at how things ended for his predecessor.

"I thought it was a disgrace," Smith, 48, said of the incident with the cabbage.

"I have an awful lot of respect for what he has done in management but, more importantly, for how he is as a man."

Villa go into the game in 17th, three places and four points below the Magpies in the table.