Tuanzebe aims two subtle digs at Bruce

Aston Villa defender Axel Tuanzebe has aimed two digs at former manager Steve Bruce, suggesting he was being played out of position prior to Dean Smith’s appointment and suggesting the Midlands outfit are “playing much better football” under their new manager.

After Villa drew 3-3 with Preston North End, throwing away a 2-0 lead earlier in the game, Bruce was sacked following a poor run of form. Supporters had grown frustrated with the manager moving players around in the team and using them out of position.

Tuanzebe has admitted he prefers operating in his natural role too, having previously featured as a makeshift right-back. Speaking to the club’s official website, the Manchester United loanee said: “(Centre-back) suits my style of play.

“It’s the one I’m used to back at Manchester United and it benefits me to be playing that way here. You can see already that we’re dominating games. We just need that final touch, pass – whatever it might be. Hopefully the extended time on the training pitch now can help us achieve that.

“We’re playing much better football and it’s a style I enjoy – keeping the ball and trying to create something by playing from the back. We’ve adapted well so far”. Villa are short on centre-backs, with only James Chester and Tuanzebe being naturals in the role after Tommy Elphick was loaned out to Hull City.

Alan Hutton and Mile Jedinak were utilised as makeshift central defenders while Tuanzebe found himself operating as a right-back at times, but he clearly prefers a central role. His comments on Villa’s improved playing style was also a parting shot at his former manager, as supporters frequently criticised Villa’s unattractive style in Bruce’s final season.

Stats from Transfermarkt.