By Graham Hill
STEVE Bruce says his team was ‘ripped to bits’ last summer after Villa failed the reach the Premier League.
Sheffield Wednesday boss Bruce comes face to face with his former club at Hillsborough.
It is Bruce’s first meeting with Villa since he was sacked and replaced by Dean Smith earlier this season.
And the Bruce has been reflecting on a turbulent year which saw Villa one game away from promotion only to find themselves plunged into a financial crisis.
Bruce told the Mirror: “It was a very, very difficult, 12, 18 months.
“To get to the play-off final, I thought was one of my better achievements.
“But because it’s Aston Villa, nobody looks at it even though we were in financial trouble for a long, long time.
“We had to wheel and deal with the free transfers. The previous summer we spent £2million and brought in £25million.
“The team that got to the play-offs was ripped to bits. We couldn’t keep hold of them. After the play-offs, the club was in turmoil.
“I was told we had to sell Jack Grealish, we had to sell this one and that one, basically to pay the wages. That’s how bad it was
“As a manager you always hope you’ll be given time and unfortunately I didn’t get enough time in my opinion. When I left, we were two points off the play-offs.”
Bruce’s Villa Park reign ended with fans showing their anger towards him ahead of the clash with Preston.
One supporter threw a cabbage at him and that left Bruce wondering what more he could do.
Bruce added: “The cabbage thing was before that game against Preston when I was on my way to the bench.
“At the time, you think you deserve a bit more respect than that. But respect in our society unfortunately seems to have left the building. I was disappointed the way it ended, of course I was.”