Sheffield Wednesday: ‘It is going to take a lot to throw a cabbage at me!’ – Steve Bruce on his Aston Villa reunion
As he prepares for a first reunion with his former club, Steve Bruce insists he is ready for whatever the Aston Villa fans throw at him in South Yorkshire.
Bruce, speaking to the assembled media ahead of Sheffield Wednesday's tussle with Villa at Hillsborough tomorrow, joked: "It is going to take a lot to throw a cabbage at me that's for sure!"
Although Bruce says he has drawn a line under his time at Villa Park, it is hard to imagine that his smile will not be a little broader than usual should the Owls derail the Midlands club promotion bid and bolster their own slender top-six hopes.
Despite having guided Villa to the play-off final last term where they lost to Fulham, Bruce was sacked at the start of October with the club lying in 12th position.
"Football managers are like everybody else," said Bruce. "If you get sacked in your job, it will disappoint you and hurt you. Absolutely.
"If there is something about you, you don't like it. You are disappointed.
"I knew with a bit more time and the players that we had brought in that we could turn things around so that is the disappointing thing for me.
"I have to accept it now that it (time) doesn't happen anymore whether you are at Aston Villa or another club."
Such was the level of discontent by the end of Bruce's reign that a cabbage was hurled at him by one angry Villa fan before a 3-3 draw with Preston North End. He was axed the following day off the back of just one victory in 10 outings.
"The cabbage thing was before that game against Preston when I was on my way to the bench," he said. "At the time, you think you deserve a bit more respect than that.
"But respect in our society unfortunately seems to have left the building."
The 58-year-old has defended his Villa record, saying: "In 2018, I think only Millwall and Burton spent less than Aston Villa and we still got to a play-off final.
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"We were one game away from it (promotion)
"Whatever (criticism) is thrown at me, I can back it up.
"But it doesn't matter really. It is what it is.
"We have all moved on.
"By the end of next week, I will have done 900 games. It is part of the journey, which I have been on and, as far as I am concerned, it has gone."
Bruce has yet to lose as Owls boss, having lifted the club to 11th and four points off Villa, who occupy the final play-off spot. He admits Wednesday may have to win all of their remaining seven Championship fixtures to secure a top-six finish.
"I think they are all must win games if we are going to be realistic," said Bruce, who has confirmed Rolando Aarons (ankle) is an injury concern. "We have to win them all.
"I'm sure there will be one or two twists and turns. All we can try and do is do what we have done in the last few weeks which is keep the momentum going and keep ourselves in there.
"We still have a chance. It is only a small one.
"But unfortunately we are running out of games.
"Sod's law, I have got near enough everybody fit and the season is coming to a close."