Sport Soccer

Tuesday 21 January 2020

'I'm used to Potato Head' - Steve Bruce wants Aston Villa fans to give him a new nickname

New Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce
New Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce Newsdesk Newsdesk

New Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce dismissed any fears over his Birmingham past and believes he has taken on the biggest challenge of his career.

The 55-year-old, who has signed a rolling contract, was unveiled by Villa on Thursday to replace Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked after just 12 games last week.

He spent six years at city rivals Birmingham, winning promotion twice before leaving in 2007, and takes over at Villa with the club 19th in the Sky Bet Championship after just one win.

Bruce also played 84 games for Blues but remains unconcerned if any fans have an issue with his managerial history.

He said: "I have to be really careful but I do believe I have one of the biggest clubs in the country. It's a privilege to manage, it's arguably the biggest club I have managed and the biggest challenge of all. The expectation is always going to be there.

"When the opportunity came to manage the club of this size...I am an out of work football manager. The opportunity to manage a club like this - and it's one of the big clubs of our country with great history and tradition, that was the main reason when I got the call.

"I think I understand the rivalry, of course we do. We've all been here long enough and it was a long time ago. I hope that I can bring (that) success.

"I hope I can bring that success here, now, that's what this club needs. We need to get back in the big league and the challenge of that alone was the resounding factor of why I came here."

Bruce also hopes the Villa supporters give him a new nickname if he achieves success at the club.

"I have been used to being called 'Potato Head' for the last 20 years," he said. "I think I have always taken It as a bit of a compliment. If they are against you they usually quite like you. I would ask them all to get behind the team and the club again.

"They are a fantastically loyal support, and I'll try my utmost to make sure we get back to where we want to try and get to."

Bruce won promotion with Birmingham in 2002, beating Norwich in the play-offs, and again in 2007 before leaving St Andrew's for Wigan.

He also took Hull up via the play-offs last season after winning promotion in 2013 while he also guided them to the FA Cup final in 2014, losing a 2-0 lead to Arsenal to go down 3-2.

Villa host Wolves on Saturday 15 points behind leaders Huddersfield, but Bruce believes they can win promotion.

The former Manchester United captain said: "I realise we have to turn this around and I'm quietly confident with the group of players I've seen on paper.

"When you look at the squad we are capable of mounting a challenge and that can be this year too. We're capable of being a very good team."

Bruce brings former Birmingham midfielder Stephen Clemence as first-team coach from Hull while he is yet to make any other appointments to his backroom staff.

He is also aware bridges need to be built to frustrated Villa fans who have seen their side relegated from the Premier League for the first time and then struggle in the second tier.

"Well there is going to be (some disconnect between players and fans) when you've been relegated, and this club has never been relegated before, so it's new to them," he added.

"We've got to try and mend that if we possibly can, and the only way you can do that is by winning a few matches."

PA Media

The Throw-In: New era for Dublin, all up for grabs in the hurling league and club final heroics

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport