Aston Villa Fans’ faith in Tony Xia rocked
Villa supporters are divided over Steve Bruce with the manager’s future still shrouded in uncertainty.
The results of the Express & Star’s end-of-season survey also revealed fans are losing faith in owner Tony Xia’s future vision for Villa following their failure to regain Premier League status.
Xia is understood to be wavering over whether to stick with Bruce following Villa’s defeat in last month’s Championship play-off final.
Supporters are also unsure over whether the 57-year-old is the right man to lead the team forward.
Of nearly 600 fans who took part in our survey, 52 per cent believe Bruce should be replaced as manager, while 48 per cent believe he is still the best man for the job.
Defeat at Wembley has left Villa facing severe financial difficulties and triggered the first serious questions of Xia since he completed a £76.2million takeover two years ago. Those concerns were heightened yesterday, when it emerged the club is in discussions with HMRC to stave off a winding-up order after missing a tax payment.
Villa finished 13th in Xia’s first season at the helm but the owner remained popular with fans, with 85 per cent of those who voted in our survey 12 months ago having confidence in his running of the club, while 87 per cent believed he would deliver future success.
Those numbers have now dropped dramatically.
Of those who took part in our survey, only 56 per cent have confidence in his ownership, while just 43 per cent now think he can deliver success.
Belief in Villa’s ability to quickly bounce back to the Premier League has also fallen. A year ago, 55 per cent of fans polled thought the club would achieve promotion this season.
Now, the majority believe promotion will take at least two further campaigns, with more than a quarter believing Villa could be absent from the top flight for more than a decade. The fallout from the painful play-off final defeat is still being felt and has undoubtedly influenced perspectives on a season which was not without its memorable moments. James Chester, just as he did in the club’s official poll, received the most votes in the player of the season category, edging out Jack Grealish into second place, with Alan Hutton in third.
Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was identified as Villa’s best signing of last summer, after keeping 22 clean sheets over the course of the campaign.
The 4-1 home derby win over Wolves in March was, meanwhile, voted the favourite memory of the season by fans.
Villa’s 1-0 Wembley defeat to Fulham, unsurprisingly, topped the poll for worst moment of the year.
The result means the club must raise around £40million in order to comply with Financial Fair Play regulations and may have to sell some prize assets.
More than two-thirds of supporters polled named Jack Grealish as the player they most fear losing. Four in ten fans claim they will attend fewer games next season in light of the club’s failure to win promotion.