Steve Bruce: Aston Villa majority owners give manager full support to continue

Steve Bruce with Manuel Pellegrini
Steve Bruce was present at Villa's friendly match with West Ham United at Walsall's Bescot Stadium

Steve Bruce has been given "full support" to stay as Aston Villa boss after meeting with new majority owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.

Ex-France striker Thierry Henry had been heavily linked as a replacement for Bruce, amid speculation following the arrivals of the two new investors.

Bruce, 57, led Villa to the Championship play-off final last season but they lost to Fulham at Wembley.

He was present at Villa's pre-season friendly against West Ham on Wednesday.

The former Sunderland and Birmingham City manager has won 42 of his 89 games in charge since arriving in October 2016.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona forward Henry, 40, was an assistant to Belgium manager Roberto Martinez at the 2018 World Cup and it was reported he was being lined up to take his first managerial role at Villa Park.

'Nothing happens overnight'

The decision to retain Bruce comes after several high-profile departures since the end of last season, including former England captain John Terry from the playing staff and chief executive Keith Wyness and director of football Steve Round from off-field roles.

New owners Edens and Sawiris outlined their plans for Villa in an interview for the club website, with a nod to the continuity that has seen Bruce retained in his role as manager.

American financier Edens has sporting experience as co-owner of the National Basketball Association [NBA] side Milwaukee Bucks.

"Change is what got us here, but nothing happens over night," Edens said. "That was my experience of the Bucks and it'll be consistent with what it is here.

"We have very lofty goals, and we just want to be the best possible partners for that."

Analysis

Mark Regan, BBC WM 95.6

An outbreak of common sense has occurred at Villa Park.

New owners so often means a new manager but, despite a whirlwind of speculation surrounding the future of Bruce and the seemingly imminent arrival of Henry, nothing has changed.

Since the stories began to appear about Henry replacing Bruce it seemed it was a matter of time. However, change now would have been a high risk strategy at a time of obvious upheaval for the club - a needless gamble at a poor time.

Common sense prevailed and now Villa can start to embrace the new era and the new season under their new ownership.

Life in the new era

The financial environment Bruce will work in has been eased by the investment.

Villa needed fresh income urgently after their play-off final loss brought to light serious financial issues, made worse by missing out on the £160m-plus windfall that would have been generated by a return to Premier League football.

The club missed a £4m tax payment in June, with now co-chairman Dr Tony Xia understood to have cash flow problems because of strict rules about money leaving his native China.

Villa reached an agreement with HM Revenue and Customs over the payment soon afterwards.

However, with a reduced parachute payment from the Premier League in their third season outside the top flight and Financial Fair Play regulations to comply with, there are likely to be restraints on transfers.

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