When Aston Villa appointed Steve Bruce as their new manager, it was clear why they had chosen the former Manchester United defender.
Bruce is a specialist in taking Championship clubs into the Premier League. He has won promotion four times - twice with Birmingham, twice with Hull - and right now Villa are in need of that kind of experience, if they are to have any chance of going up this season.
Currently 19th and some ten points away from the play-off spots, Bruce will have to turn around things quickly for Villa to bounce straight back to the Premier League. That could prove difficult at a club that has been in decline for several seasons.
Villa have talent within their squad, but it is telling when a homegrown, one-club man like Gabby Agbonlahor loses motivation. Bruce is known for his ability to get players behind him and that strength looks set to be put to it’s sternest test.
Yet for all of the problems at Villa, it is worth pointing out that this is about as good as it gets for Steve Bruce right now.
He’s been a manager for nearly 20 years and this is his ninth job, but never has he been at a club as big as Villa. With seven titles, seven FA Cups, five League Cups and a European Cup, this is a club with serious pedigree, even if it has fallen on hard times.
Having walked out of Hull in the summer and been overlooked for the England job, Bruce had few options. He could have held out for a Premier League team, but if he’d been given a chance it would have likely been with a side heading towards relegation and with less potential than Villa.
Bruce undoubtedly has a difficult job to do. Yet if he can repeat his habit of winning promotion within the next couple of seasons, he will find himself managing one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League.
If Villa were not in reduced circumstances, they would not be interested in a manager who has spent most of his career either aiming for promotion or fighting relegation. This is as much an opportunity for Bruce as it is for Villa, which is why they make a perfect match for another.