Aston Villa’s financial problems were well documented earlier this summer after the club missed out on promotion to the Premier League following their 1-0 loss to Fulham in the playoff final. Owner and chairman Dr Tony Xia was banking on the club receiving the riches of England’s top division, but ended up with a £4.2m tax bill from HMRC and the threat of a winding-up order.
However, after a payment plan was agreed with the government, new owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took a controlling stake in the club from Xia and the instability of the summer looked to be over.
Then came the rumours that Thierry Henry had agreed a verbal contract to become the new boss at Villa Park. After a couple more days of speculation, the new owners confirmed that boss Steve Bruce would be staying on and the former Hull and Sunderland manager could finally plan for the 2018/19 season.
Bruce deservedly kept his job for another crack at promotion and secured the signings of Andre Moreira and Axel Tuanzebe on loan from Atletico Madrid and Manchester United respectively. He now deserves huge credit for bringing Villa through this difficult summer.
The final hurdle for Bruce to overcome was what the future would entail for 22-year-old midfielder Jack Grealish. The youngster was heavily linked with Tottenham, and Spurs even had a £25m bid rejected before the hierarchy at Villa finally made it clear he was not for sale at any price.
Bruce will have been delighted to keep hold of the playmaker, who started the opening weekend win over Hull at the KCOM Stadium as the players seemed to rally around Bruce and put in an emphatic performance to come from behind and run out 3-1 winners.
Bruce deserves huge credit for riding out this summer, keeping hold of his top players and guiding Villa to a winning start to their Championship season. The fans can now look forward to another promotion push this season.