Aston Villa can still challenge for promotion - Steve Bruce

Aston Villa can still challenge for promotion - Steve Bruce

New manager Steve Bruce is confident Aston Villa can still mount a promotion challenge this season despite a poor start to the campaign.

Bruce was unveiled by Villa on Thursday as the replacement for Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked after just 12 games in the hot-seat last week.

Bruce inherits a side sitting 19th in the Sky Bet Championship with just one win so far, but the former Hull boss believes there is the quality in the squad to bid for an immediate return to the Premier League.

He told a press conference: "I realise that we have to turn this around and I'm quietly confident with the group of players I've seen on paper.

"When you look at the squad we are capable of mounting a challenge and that can be this year too. We're capable of being a very good team.

"They've been a little bit unfortunate but certainly the qualities are there and it's my job to go and get the best out of them."

Bruce has plenty of experience of getting clubs out of the Championship and into the Premier League and managed it twice while in charge of Villa's city rivals Birmingham.

The 55-year-old also twice took Hull into the top flight during his four years with the Tigers and he is hoping to add another promotion to his CV at Villa Park.

Asked about his St Andrew's past, Bruce said: "I think I understand the rivalry, of course we do. We've all been here long enough and it was a long time ago. I hope that I can bring (that) success.

"When I went to Birmingham we were 15th at Christmas and went on a run that got us promoted.

"I hope I can bring that success here, now, that's what this club needs. We need to get back in the big league and the challenge of that alone was the resounding factor of why I came here."

Bruce has been out of work since leaving Hull this summer but brings with him almost two decades of managerial experience.

Aside from his six years at Birmingham, the former Manchester United and Blues defender has had stints at the likes of Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Wigan.

The 55-year-old admits, though, that his new post probably trumps all of them in terms of the size of the club and the size of the challenge facing him.

He said: "I have to be really careful but I do believe I have one of the biggest clubs in the country. It's a privilege to manage, it's arguably the biggest club I have managed and the biggest challenge of all. The expectation is always going to be there.

"When the opportunity came to manage the club of this size...I am an out of work football manager. The opportunity to manage a club like this - and it's one of the big clubs of our country with great history and tradition, that was the main reason when I got the call."

Bruce's first game will be a local derby against Wolves, who make the short trip to Villa Park for Saturday's evening kick-off.

Bruce is well aware that some bridges need to built to frustrated Villa fans who have seen their side relegated from the Premier League for the first time and then struggle in the second tier, and he believes the way to do that is on the pitch.

"Well there is going to be (some disconnect between players and fans) when you've been relegated, and this club's never been relegated before, so it's new to them," he said.

"We've got to try and mend that if we possibly can, and the only way you can do that is by winning a few matches and play a certain style which the people of the Midlands and the people of Birmingham understand, which is to show that passion that they show towards the club.

"It's my job to try and bring that back."

Bruce, who has added former Hull and Sunderland assistant Stephen Clemence to his backroom staff at Villa, added of what he expects to experience when he walks out at Villa Park on Saturday: "I've been used to being called potato head from them (Villa fans) for the last 20 years, fat head at Liverpool...whatever.

"I think I've always took it as a bit of a compliment. If they are against you, then usually they quite like you. What I would ask is for them all to get behind the team and the club again. They are a fantastically loyal support, and I'll try my utmost to make sure we get back to where we want to try and get to."