(Picture: Action Images)
Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner has praised Steve Bruce, and says the new boss has instilled a new-found confidence within the squad.
Since becoming the new manager at Villa Park last month, Steve Bruce has overseen a vast improvement in results that has included a first win away in 14 months, at Reading, and a hard-fought draw against bitter rivals Birmingham on Sunday.
The Villans are now starting to play like the promotion contenders many viewed them as before the season kicked-off, and boyhood Villa fan Gary Gardner believes that is all down to Bruce.
The 24-year-old midfielder said: “Every player knows what they’re doing now. We feel confident.
“It feels like we can’t lose. I know it’s funny to say that but it’s a good feeling to have. Going into games knowing you’ve got a better chance of winning than losing is good.
“The gaffer’s been there and done it – four promotions, and hopefully he can get another one with us. We’ve worked very hard and it’s showing.”
As well as Villa vastly improving under the former Hull City and Birmingham manager, so has Gardner, who despite starting the season as first-choice under Roberto Di Matteo, was initially dropped to the bench by Bruce.
However, after being recalled to the starting line-up at Reading, which saw the end of that infamous away record, Gardner’s place in the team has coincided with an unbeaten run of four games, and his first goal for the club.
And Gardner, who is nearing 100 senior appearances that have included loan spells at Brighton and Nottingham Forest, is loving it.
He said: “Scoring at St Andrew’s and celebrating in front of the Villa fans was massive for me.
“Growing up as a kid, it was a dream to even play in a derby, never mind score. I’ve worked my socks off on the pitch and looked after myself off the pitch and taken the chance with both hands.
“It took a while to get my chance and I won’t let it go easily.”