Steve Bruce is proud of the transformation he has seen at Aston Villa – both on and off the pitch – since he took charge in 2016.
Bruce joined Villa following the sacking of Roberto Di Matteo in October 2016, with the club winning just one of their opening 12 Championship games following relegation from the Premier League.
Despite arriving with the club in 19th, Bruce has guided Villa to the brink of Premier League promotion within 18 months as they prepare to face Fulham in Saturday’s Championship play-off final, live on Sky Sports.
A Villa vs Fulham
May 26, 2018, 4:00pm
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Bruce’s brand of football has also won over fans, with Villa boasting an aggregate home attendance of 738,219 – the biggest of all the clubs in the Championship.
“Let’s be fair, Aston Villa went down with a whimper. There was no association with the players anymore, it had broken,” said Bruce.
“I remember speaking to the technical director at the first game against Wolves and thought oh, oh, wow! Of course the culture of the club at the time was… I mean, we hadn’t won away from home for 18 months. Some of the stats
were just absolutely ridiculous.
“My initial thought, and (technical director) Steve Round agreed with me, was, ‘we’ve got to stop the rot here and just keep the club in the Championship’, would you believe. That’s how low I thought it had got.
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“That is why I went down the route of bringing in the likes of (Glenn) Whelan and (Ahmed) Elmohamady, John Terry of course, (Mile) Jedinak – all people who can handle playing for Aston Villa.
“A lot of work has gone in in 18 months. We’ve worked tirelessly and changed the squad round hugely and thankfully with winning a few games it’s certainly starting to mend with the supporters.
“It certainly wasn’t there when I arrived 19 months ago. There were certainly times when they wanted to rip my head off and rip the head off the players. But now, I do believe they have enjoyed seeing what we have got at the moment.”