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Whether the timing is coincidental or whether it’s a reaction to a recent mini dip in form is open to speculation but either way Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has reportedly chosen this time to shake up his coaching staff with the addition of formed Middlesbrough Caretaker manager Steve Agnew.
It was being reported in the North East on Monday morning that Agnew, who has reportedly been on gardening leave since the end of last season when having been appointed as caretaker manager was unable to save Middlesbrough from the drop, had resolved his future and was ready to rejoin good friend Steve Bruce at Villa Park.
The last time the pair combined was during a memorable 2½ year spell which saw Hull City both achieve promotion and reach the FA Cup final which they ultimately lost to Arsenal.
Agnew almost joined Villa last year before Bruce instead brought in Colin Calderwood from Brighton & Hove Albion.
Nothing has been confirmed by Villa themselves yet but Bruce will be looking to give his side a lift after a disappointing couple of weeks which has seen them slipping back in the automatic promotion race whilst seeing their play of rivals close in on them.
Interestingly, despite an absolute howler of a back-pass from Glen Whelan leading to former Villa striker Andreas Weimann setting Villa on the way to a defeat that followed a disappointing home draw with Millwall, Bruce chose to question his own selection decisions rather than blaming his players, just as he did after the Millwall match.
Bruce has faced a nightmare scenario in recent weeks with injuries bringing Villa down to one fit striker, rookie Keinan Davies but even though Davies reported sick on Saturday things seemingly looked better with both £9 million forward Scott Hogan and Villa stalwart Gabby Agbonlahor back in training.
Bruce however chose to leave them both on the bench and play for over an hour without a recognised striker playing young Spurs loanee Josh Onomah in an advanced position which looked as unfamiliar as it was to the attacking midfielder who struggled to make an impact.
If Bruce does doubt his recent decision making maybe a fresh pair of eyes is just what the club need as Villa can ill afford to drop many more points during what is turning out to be a tricky month. Especially as they continue to face their promotion rivals in the next 3 games with home games against Sheffield United and Bristol City sandwiching tough trips to Brentford and by chance Steve Agnew’s former employers Middlesbrough.
Bruce though remains bullish about their current form saying at the post Derby press conference “there are no guarantees in this league but I am quietly confident we will get though the sticky patch. It is the way the Championship is, it is the first time we have lost away from home since Wolves, which is a long time ago now.”
Time will tell though whether the seemingly pending arrival of Agnew with give Bruce and Villa the fresh impetus to kick on from what is still a useful position to be in at this stage of the season.
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