Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, former Premier League goalkeeper Chris Kirkland has revealed his shock at Aston Villa’s decision to sack Steve Bruce back in 2018.
The now Newcastle manager was removed from his duties at Villa Park by Christian Purslow, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens after going on a run of just one win in his previous nine league games, leaving them in 12th in the Championship table, and still smarting from a dramatic 3-3 draw with bottom club Preston North End.
Despite Villa’s struggles towards the end and subsequent rise under Dean Smith, Kirkland has admitted that he was left incredibly surprised that the Midlands club took the decision to sack someone with Bruce’s “record”.
Speaking to FFC’s James Beavis, he said: “When he got sacked at Villa they were two points off the playoffs. They sacked him, and yes they’ve got up since then, but it was just absurd.
“Why would you sack somebody who’s got a record like he has in the Championship? He gets teams promoted and then when they go up to the Premier League, with Wigan he took them to a 10th-placed finish which was the best they’ve ever had.”
Whilst Kirkland may be right to point out Bruce’s tonne of experience managing at Premier League and Championship level, Villa’s wretched run of form at the time surely warranted a change in direction.
With football requiring immediate results and little time for patience, even someone like Bruce with his wealth of knowledge isn’t going to be afforded the time to try and ride out the wave.
Many Villa fans had lost their patience in the veteran boss, with that Preston game of course seeing one particularly angry supporter throw a cabbage in Bruce’s direction. That’s not to mention the kind of volatile atmosphere that was developing within the crowd at games, and supporters calling for him to be gone.
And when you look at how Villa have soared since they got rid of their former manager, then it’s absolutely clear that they made the right call.
Smith has led them to promotion from the Championship, made sure they didn’t get relegated in their first season back in the Premier League, and has been the architect of an impressive start to the new campaign that has even seen them thrash current champions Liverpool, 7-2.
Everything has turned out well for Villa, so fans may not be totally on board with Kirkland’s verdict.