Date: 9th November 2007 at 7:12pm
Written by:

Steve Bruce has done a great job for Birmingham City – according to Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill ahead of Sunday’s derby.

While it’s difficult to understand what O’Neill means when he says anything – because he is a shrewd operator, not because of his accent – perhaps it’s worth taking his comments at face value and, perhaps, uncover a hint of jealousy in his words.

For while the Villa Park faithful may claim otherwise, O’Neill does tend to over-rely on the long-ball strategy. As he did at Celtic, Leicester and Wycombe, to be fair. So his comments that he enjoyed the match between Birmingham and Wigan may suggest he was glad to watch players who could play proper football.

O’Neill told Sky Sports News: “I saw them play a couple of weeks ago against Wigan and thoroughly enjoyed the game, I thought it was very good and very open. The side has changed a little bit from the team I saw gain promotion.

“I have a lot of time for Steve, I thought his achievement in getting Birmingham promotion last year was terrific considering a calendar year ago there were all sorts of dark clouds hanging over the club. He galvanised the team, got them together and won promotion, it was a really brilliant effort.”

Sunday should be an interesting occasion, with two different styles of football on display. Hopefully the attempt to play decent football (even if it doesn’t work out too well at times) by Birmingham will win over the ‘lump it and run’ mentality O’Neill has installed in Villa.

Though, to be perfectly honest, any win against Historian FC would be a great win…!