Steve Bruce says it is time for Aston Villa to rebuild
Villa face Hull in Championship opener, live on Sky
By Emma James
Last Updated: 06/08/18 6:32pm
Steve Bruce believes it is time for Aston Villa to rebuild themselves and challenge for promotion after the arrival of the club's new owners.
Following defeat to Fulham in May's Championship play-off final, Villa's financial situation "unravelled" with the suspension of chief executive Keith Wyness and director of football Steve Round leaving Villa Park.
Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens arrived at the club as majority shareholders in July, taking over from Tony Xia, and Bruce believes the development can only be good news following a summer of uncertainty.
"From the day we lost against Fulham, the situation the club was finding itself in started to unravel and there has been cuts to the medical department and throughout, people have been losing their jobs and that is the fallout of not getting there" Bruce said in an exclusive interview with Sky Sports.
"It can only be good for the club and with that, it is going to take time but the owners have made it pretty clear in their statements to me and conversations I have had with them that we do not just want to be a sticky plaster and cover over all the cracks, which we have maybe been doing for the last few years.
Ten or 12 days ago, everybody was for sale and now we are in a situation where no one is for sale
"There is a plan to go forward and the main bit is the club can rebuild itself again and get itself back on an even keel and try and have a plan in place over the next two or three years to take Aston Villa to where it wants to be".
Bruce believes his team still requires six players to be in contention to compete in the Championship this season after seeing Sam Johnstone, Josh Onomah, Robert Snodgrass, Axel Tuanzebe and Lewis Grabban return to their parent clubs this summer after loan spells at Villa, while fulfilling the need to lower the average age of the squad.
"We are six players short of where we were in the play-off final last year so they have all gone back to their parent club - that is the downside of loaning players," said Bruce.
"We have the nucleus of a decent team, all of a sudden it is ripped apart and they have gone back to their parent club so for me, it is like starting all over again from when I arrived some 20 months ago.
"We have to be a bit younger than we were last year - when you look back, too many of the squad we had put together last year was on the wrong side of 30. So we need a bit more freshness, a bit more legs and a bit more energy."
Bruce also said the owners have reiterated that the club do not need to sell Jack Grealish, James Chester or Jonathan Kodjia to stay afloat.
"Ten or 12 days ago, everybody was for sale and now we are in a situation where no one is for sale, so it is quite a remarkable change," he said.
"When the club flew out to see me in Portugal after Steve [Round] had left and told me the problems, I did not think they were as huge as they were - I did not think of takeovers or if we had to sell Grealish, Kodjia or Chester.
"[Grealish] is not for sale, however, it is very difficult when we are competing against a team which is one of the big teams in Europe now, not just in this country and has played in the Champions League.
"But the owner has made it pretty clear that he does not want to sell anybody and that includes Jack."
Villa kick off their season at the KCOM stadium against Hull City on Monday - a match you can see live on Sky Sports Football - and Bruce thinks the upcoming campaign under new ownership brings fresh optimism to the club.
"We have got a lot of work to do, we've got a fresh optimism around everybody," he said. "If I was a Villa fan, I would be absolutely delighted at what's just taken place because the new guys [who have] come in are serious about their work, they have been hugely successful in what they do and I am sure they would want the club to be that way too."
Watch Hull v Aston Villa live on Sky Sports Football on Monday.