The 55-year-old replaces Roberto Di Matteo who was sacked after just 12 games last week.
Bruce returns to management after quitting Hull in the summer with Villa 19th in the Sky Bet Championship, just two points above the relegation zone.
Bruce told the club’s official site: “It’s a wonderful opportunity. It is one of the big clubs of this country. To be given the opportunity to manage it is terrific.
“I relish the challenge of trying to take the club where it wants to go and needs to be — and try to turn around the misfortune we seem to have had over the past few years.
“I am absolutely delighted to have been given the chance. I hope I can do my stuff.”
Bruce becomes Villa’s sixth manager, both caretaker and full time, since Tim Sherwood was appointed in February 2015.
His first game will be Saturday’s local derby against Wolves at Villa Park with the club already 15 points behind leaders Huddersfield.
Villa also go to Bruce’s former club Birmingham on October 30th.
Bruce has always been the leading contender for Villa, who also interviewed assistant manager Steve Clarke, after Di Matteo was axed.
They were interested in Huddersfield’s David Wagner and Brentford boss Dean Smith but turned to Bruce, who lives in the Midlands, despite being impressed by Clarke, who has reportedly now left the club.
Chief executive Keith Wyness, ex-boss Brian Little and technical director Steve Round advised owner Tony Xia, who had the final say.
Bruce spent six years at Birmingham manager, leaving in 2007, and has won promotion to the Premier League four times, twice with Blues and twice with Hull.
Post by Football News on Oct 13, 2016 15:02:23 GMT
Steve Bruce shapes up to rewrite history with Aston Villa makeover
A record-breaking four promotions from the Championship will stand the former Birmingham City manager in good stead for his latest managerial role
Steve Bruce may be half the man he used to be but Aston Villa’s new manager remains a heavyweight promotion expert. So far so good for Tony Xia but, even though the clocks have still to go back, history suggests Villa’s ambitious Chinese owner may have to forget about an instant return to the Premier League this season.
Indeed should Bruce – who has lost a staggering amount of weight and, even more startlingly, coloured his hair ash blond since resigning as Hull City’s manager in the summer – fulfil widespread West Midlands expectation having been named as Roberto Di Matteo’s successor on Wednesday, his first task will be to ensure Villa avoid relegation from the Championship.
After all, a side who have won only one of their first 11 second-tier matches reside in 19th position with only 10 points. Admittedly the division is tight but already the leaders, Huddersfield Town, have 25 points, second‑placed Norwich City have 23 points and Rafael Benítez’s third‑placed Newcastle United – still very much the title favourites – 22 points.
If automatic promotion via a top‑two finish already looks ominously out of bounds, the play-offs also appear a bit of a stretch. After all, sixth-placed Birmingham City are on 20 points, twice Villa’s tally.
All in all it looks as if Xia’s team are likely to be among the two-thirds of newly relegated clubs who fail to bounce back to the Premier League at the first attempt. During the past 10 seasons only 10 of the 30 fallen clubs have returned to the top flight 12 months later – and of those successes, merely one changed manager during the promotion campaign.
That exception is Sunderland, who in 2006-07 appointed Roy Keane in late August. Helpfully, though, the man he replaced, Niall Quinn, was the chairman – who as caretaker manager presided over four successive defeats – and the transfer window had not closed, enabling Keane to make six immediate signings.
Usually clubs who switch manager mid‑season tend to flounder – unless, of course, they are Watford who, in 2014‑15, turned all sorts of established norms on their head by winning promotion despite working their way through four head coaches in Beppe Sannino, Óscar García, Billy McKinlay and Slavisa Jokanovic.
Generally, though, a change of coach rarely proves a promotion-winning magic wand, with a classic example arriving in October 2009 when Middlesbrough swapped Gareth Southgate for Gordon Strachan. At the time the newly-relegated Boro were fourth, one point off top spot, but they had to settle for 11th the following May.
Moreover the second-tier landscape has since changed dramatically with a markedly raised bar ensuring it is now probably more competitive than ever. “Technically the Championship’s a very good level now,” says Benítez. “Clubs are spending large amounts of money and there are a lot of good players.”
The good news for Villa – and probably Bruce – is that three of the Championship’s best strikers currently strut their stuff in front of the Holte End. Di Matteo may have struggled to unlock their goalscoring potential but, deployed within the correct framework, Ross McCormack, Jonathan Kodjia and Rudy Gestede are arguably all 20‑goal‑a‑season forwards. Behind them Jack Grealish is, at his best, a match-changing midfielder.
At times under Di Matteo the team looked genuine promotion contenders before throwing away leads after the 85th minute of games – something they did five times in the League – and drawing fixtures they really should have won. This suggests a mental rather than technical problem within a squad which saw Di Matteo sign nine players for a collective £50m in the summer while offloading 17 for £16m. As if that ‘churn factor’ was not sufficiently destabilising, the Italian was Villa’s third manager (fifth if you include caretakers) during a single calendar year.
The stage seems set for Bruce’s much-vaunted man-management. With his sharper messages leavened by Geordie humour, players have a habit of buying into the plans of a 55-year-old who, at Hull, brought the best out of, among others, Curtis Davies, Mohamed Diamé and David Meyler.
Admittedly a man who likes his squads to contain a strong British/Irish nucleus failed to get a response from the gifted yet high-maintenance Hatem Ben Arfa and Gastón Ramírez on Humberside but this should not diminish his achievement in securing four promotions to the Premier League (two with Hull and two at Birmingham). No other manager has matched that feat – and his record explains why Villa fans would be short-sighted to obsess about his past consorting with the enemy at St Andrew’s.
Already there are plans to try to bring in Steve Agnew, Aitor Karanka’s highly rated assistant at Middlesbrough, as Villa’s No2. Boro will fight to keep their man but the prospect of Bruce and Agnew reprising a once successful double act at Hull can only enhance Xia’s hopes of an unlikely promotion dalliance.
Anyone puzzled at the notion that Agnew would consider stepping out of the Premier League has probably failed to notice that England’s old Second Division has undergone a makeover even more jaw-droppingly radical than Bruce’s recent effort.
During 2014-15 only the Premier League, the Bundesliga and La Liga attracted bigger audiences than the Championship in Europe. With Villa and Newcastle in this season’s mix many observers expect La Liga’s attendances to be surpassed shortly. Such focus brings added pressure and scrutiny but, having previously survived a particularly brutal appointment in charge of Sunderland, Bruce is at least suitably battle-hardened.
It probably also helps that he has kept a home south of Birmingham ever since his St Andrew’s days and, unlike certain predecessors, is fully au fait with both Villa’s backstory and the area’s nuances.
Xia has secured a candidate who is primed to spice up the promotion race by endeavouring to prove that modern Championship history is bunk.