Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has stated that he wants to win on his return to Villa Park when his Toon side face Aston Villa on Monday night, adding: “It’s simple as that”.
Bruce was asked to reflect on his time in charge of the Birmingham-based outfit during his pre-game press conference on Thursday, and noted how it had been a pleasure to manage the Villans as they sought to secure a return to the Premier League.
The 58-year-old led the claret and blue cladded side to the Championship Play-Off Final in 2018 during a two-year spell at the club, but missed out on a top-flight berth for the ’18/19 Premier League campaign after losing to Fulham at Wembley.
Villa sacked Bruce just five months on from the loss to Fulham, and, despite a spell in charge of Sheffield Wednesday since, Monday night represents his first pilgrimage back to Villa Park since his dismissal.
“It’s like always when you go back to a club, I had the privilege to manage it,” Bruce said, via quotes by the Chronicle. “It was a great club.
“You’re always disappointed the way it ends. Of course, I thought I would have demanded a bit more time, but that was not the case after a difficult period really where the club, financially, was in a difficult place.
“We nearly got there – lost in the Play-Off Final – but overall, I can look back on it and say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a great club with big tradition [and a] big history, but I want to go back and beat them. It’s simple as that!”
Newcastle are well placed to meet Bruce’s intentions for his return to Villa Park, as the boss’ record against his former sides point to a greater success rate than not.
Following his decision to move to Huddersfield Town in May 1999 after a spell in charge of Sheffield United, Bruce beat the Blades 4-1 in his first meeting with his former side and won 1-0 on his first return to Bramall Lane.
Bruce joined Birmingham City later on in his career after a stint in charge of Crystal Palace, and was held to a goalless draw with the Eagles on his return to Selhurst Park, in what was his first meeting with the South London side following his departure in 2001.
He later left Birmingham to re-join Wigan Athletic, and beat the St. Andrew’s natives on their first encounter. Bruce lost on his return to the DW Stadium following his move to Sunderland in 2009, but beat the Black Cats home and away with Hull City in his first games against the Stadium of Light natives.
The last time Bruce played away to a former side was during his spell in charge of Villa when they travelled to face Hull, where the Villans were held to draws home and away in their first encounters.
What will the result be on Monday night?
Bruce left Huddersfield in October 2000 and returned to management with Wigan in March 2001 for what was his first spell with the Latics, but never faced the Terriers before joining Crystal Palace in June ’01.
Palace have rarely come up against Wigan in their history, and of their four meetings, neither came with Bruce in charge of either side.