Steve Bruce eyeing the top prize as Aston Villa win at Sunderland

Posted Wednesday, March 07, 2018 by PA

Steve Bruce eyeing the top prize as Aston Villa win at Sunderland

Steve Bruce is targeting the Championship title after Aston Villa kept up the pressure at the top of table with a comprehensive 3-0 win over struggling Sunderland.

Villa’s victory at the Stadium of Light came courtesy of goals from Lewis Grabban and James Chester and Bryan Oviedo’s own goal means Bruce’s side have now won nine of their last 11 games.

They have closed to within seven points of Wolves, who face Leeds on Wednesday, and host the league leaders at Villa Park this weekend.

Second-placed Cardiff also have to travel to Villa before the end of the campaign, so while Bruce admits a play-off place will still be a decent achievement, he has not ruled out a late push to the Championship summit.

Bruce said: “Can we still win the league? I said before that it would take an almighty, calamitous crash for Wolves to blow up, but anything is possible in this league.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance and that’s important for a club like ours. We’ve got Wolves, Cardiff and Derby at home, so it’s all to play for.

“We’ve won nine out of 11 and people are still above us. Fulham and Cardiff are having a great run as well, but we’re going well. We’ve got Wolves this weekend, and if we can turn them over, we’ll have a great chance.”

Having managed at the Stadium of Light, Bruce has been watching Sunderland’s collapse in the last few years with interest, and seems similarities between his former club’s plight and the situation he inherited at Villa.

He said: “”I don’t think sympathy’s the right word, I inherited a club with something similar. With us, it was a new owner, new direction, and that’s what this club needs.

“There needs to be a change, they’re finding it very difficult. It’s a great club, but if you don’t do it properly, you get in a mess. It doesn’t matter whose name is on the door, it can escalate into what it is here today.”

Chris Coleman felt Sunderland had turned a corner courtesy of draws against Middlesbrough and Millwall, but the Black Cats boss conceded his side’s latest defeat had taken them back to square one.

Coleman said: “It’s hard to take when you give away goals like that. They are a good team Aston Villa, they’re not up there for nothing, and they’ll be there or thereabouts. You don’t have to give them goals, they can earn goals themselves.

“But we gave them goals. How many times have I had to watch us concede a second goal seconds before half-time? It’s a bitter pill to swallow for us.

“Before the scored, there wasn’t much in the game, but we gifted them goals and that’s a common theme. The game is done and dusted then.

“It’s a poor, poor night for us, and it’s back to the start really. The teams around us keep losing, and that’s the only light at the end of the tunnel. But we’ve been on such a poor run.

“In the last three games, I thought, ‘Right, this is a good turning point for us’. But we’ve gone straight back to square one.”




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