GRAHAM HILL says former manager will clearly have a burning desire to hit back at the club who axed him earlier this season
STEVE Bruce may not admit it publicly, but deep down he is going to love it if his Sheffield Wednesday side stops Villa’s play-off bid in its tracks on Saturday.
Excuse the Kevin Keegan reference, but it is only human nature for Bruce to want to exact some form of revenge on his former club for the way he was treated before his dismissal earlier this season.
The cabbage thrown at him at the Preston game will not be forgotten in a hurry.
It was a lettuce by the way, but let’s not get into a row over vegetables.
Either way, Bruce is surely planning to make Villa look like turnips at Hillsborough.
This is where is starts to get trick for Dean Smith’s side after five wins in a row.
Those victories have been relatively comfortable except for the hostile welcome at St Andrew’s.
But now this is going to be a real test of Villa’s credentials. And, as Middlesbrough are proving, it is hard to stay in the top six.
Villa will have to overcome more than just a Wednesday side who are looking to sneak into the play-offs themselves.
They are facing up to a manager with a score to settle.
Bruce has already made a joking reference to the way he was treated by Villa fans.
But expect that to be ramped up for this fixture.
As for Smith, it is probably fair to say that the target of Bruce’s anger at the time was directed at Thierry Henry who was being tipped for the Villa job while the former Manchester United defender was still in work.
And for a while, little changed once Bruce had been sacked. It is only in the last month that Villa’s form has taken an upward swing.
Bruce will point to the fact that he stuck it out last summer when the club was heading for meltdown after the then Villa supremo Tony Xia ran into financial trouble.
Villa were heading for administration and a points deduction – but Bruce remained in charge.
At the time, he said he hoped people would remember that when things went badly.
But memories are short in football and the arrival of new billionaire owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris proved to be a double-edged sword.
They saved Villa from the crisis they were in. But a change of manager was never far away once results turned bad.
The plan was to bring in a high profile boss such as Henry or Brendan Rodgers. In the end, it was fans’ favourite Smith who got the job.
Bruce will feel he was harshly treated – and that will edge a whole extra edge to the Wednesday game.