Steve Bruce
As it stands, Steve Bruce’s decisions have left Aston Villa looking bereft at the back, showing his naivety as a modern day manager.
Words by Matt Blogg (@Blogg_Matt)

Tommy Elphick was brought into Villa in 2016 to be the man leading the revival, but he has just been sent out on loan again by Steve Bruce, and this time it is a decision that the majority of fans can’t quite get their heads around.

Elphick not only started the opening game of the season at Hull, but played well and scored his first goal for the club in a comfortable win. Everything looked up for the out of favour centre back, with fans warming to him and accepting the idea that he could partner James Chester for the season and hold down his place after 2 struggled seasons.

However, Bruce had other ideas, and told the 30 year old he could find a new club for the season. At first fans were alright with the idea of letting Elphick go, because it was widely assumed that Bruce would therefore have a defensive target lined up and ready to replace the former Championship winning captain, but as the days rolled by it became more and more clear that Bruce did not have a target ready to put pen to paper and had ultimately taken a huge risk in letting Elphick go. And all was rounded off as typically as ever when our final centre back target turned down the club to stay in the French second division.

So suddenly Villa had gone from having a decent partnership in Elphick and Chester, with Suliman waiting in the wings, to having James Chester as the only recognised senior centre back in the entire squad (assuming Bruce sees Tuanzebe as a right back), and Mile Jedinak starting alongside him every week. So while Elphick
warms the bench for Hull, he should arguably be starting in our back 4 every week.

Orjan Nyland would probably love to have a leader like Elphick in front of him during these early stages of his Villa career, but Steve Bruce wants a big man with a beard to win headers instead.

What baffles so many Aston Villa fans in the naivety of Steve Bruce, allowing one of his two centre backs to go out on loan with such stubbornness and refusal to admit his mistakes. As Villa have seen over the last 5 league games, Mile Jedinak is not a central defender. He may be in the future, but right now he does not have the quality or experience to be playing there for a team like Villa, challenging for top 6, so Elphick’s loan move just looks more and more bizarre by the week.

It is understandable that Steve Bruce wants a defender closer to Terry’s quality than Elphick’s, but letting him go before a replacement had been signed was one thing, and then not managing to sign a replacement at all is a whole other level of criminal. Bruce has unfortunately lost his gamble in the defensive department and has left Villa shorter than Alan Hutton’s barnet.

Last season Villa boasted one of the best defences in the league, but so far this season we have conceded 11 goal in 6 league games, which is genuine relegation form. It’s just a good thing we have decent attackers who have managed to score
11 as well.

So, Tommy Elphick going out on loan wasn’t too disliked at first when there was time to bring in a replacement, but since no replacement has been bought and Villa have only one central defender in their entire senior squad, serious question marks have started rising surrounding not only Bruce’s future, but his ability as a manager, which before this had never really been put into question. Aston Villa could really do with a Tommy Elphick right about now, so Steve Bruce has made a huge mistake letting him go, and not only does Elphick deserve better than being shipped out at every possible moment, but us fans deserve some competence from the man at the helm of our fallen giant.

He has made an almighty mistake, that could end up seriously hurting our season.

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