Steve Bruce says Aston Villa were "simply not good enough" in timid defeat at Wolves

Steve Bruce says Aston Villa were "simply not good enough" in timid defeat at Wolves

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce lamented a disappointing performance from his side in their west midlands derby against Wolves on Saturday, insisting that the Villans simply were "not good enough."

Charlie Malam

Steve Bruce admitted that Aston Villa must rapidly improve after their insipid 1-0 derby defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium on Saturday.

The Villans, missing strikers Jordan Ayew and Jonathan Kodjia due to the Africa Cup of Nations, were toothless for much of the 90 minutes and created just the one chance, which Ross McCormack couldn't take.

And Bruce's side also conceded an avoidable goal to Joe Mason after only 15 minutes, goalkeeper Sam Johnstone pushing a cross straight into the midfielder's path in the box.

That was the only goal of the game with Villa unable to muster a response, failing to force even a single save out of Wolves 'keeper Carl Ikeme.

The result leaves them closer to the Championship relegation zone than it does the play-off places, sitting 10 points off of Sheffield Wednesday in sixth.

'We've got a big job on our hands'

Bruce, speaking after his side's disappointing defeat, said: "If that's as good as we've got then it's going to be a long and difficult winter.

"We haven't done enough and we have to question ourselves, especially in terms of cutting edge and creating chances. 

"We've created very little for three or four weeks if I'm being honest, which is a bit of a problem.

"Yes we've got one or two injuries and one or two away, but we've got to have a little more quality than what we're showing at the moment because that simply wasn't good enough."

Asked whether his side's lack of goal threat was of a concern, the Villa boss added: "It concerns me all round, not just the lack of goals. There's a concern all round.

"The initial honeymoon period, three or four months, is over and we've got a big job on our hands. We've got a big job on our hands to turn it around.

"We thought there were shoots of recovery but there's been too many of those performances and that I can't accept.

"We had a little run, we've got to go and find it again. The one thing about the Championship is, it's unforgiving.

"You have to be genuine and honest and treat the Championship the way it should be treated because otherwise you have nights like tonight, where we haven't done enough."

Lack of quality evident, bemoans Villa boss

Such is their form, having lost five of their last nine in all competitions, Bruce acknowledged that Villa cannot rule out relegation - though he has also yet to give up hope of reaching the play-offs.

Asked whether he was concerned by the prospect of relegation, Bruce continued: "You can never say never in the Championship. When I arrived we were in a relegation fight. We were in the bottom three.

"But I'm not concerned about that. We've got to be a club of our stature and what we're trying to achieve, we've got to be at the other end of the table.

"But as I say, too many of them are just used to getting beat and unfortunately it's a bad habit to have. We huffed and puffed and tried and worked hard enough but the actual lack of quality was there for everyone to see."

On promotion, he said: "I'll never give up that. We're never going to give up but it's a huge big ask because we've drifted away in the last few weeks.

"We'd got ourselves some momentum going into the Christmas period and unfortunately we've lost back-to-back away games which, obviously, is not good."

Bruce admits Villa were 'simply not good enough'

The 56-year-old, asked to sum up the issues which have now condemned his side to back-to-back 1-0 league defeats, insisted his team are short of the quality required.

He said: "We're simply not good enough. At the moment, we've got to work with what we've got and try and make us better and get away from this mentality.

"Aston Villa come to town and everyone wants to beat us, we have to rise to that challenge and be bigger and better than what we've shown at the moment.

"It's my job to breathe a bit of confidence back. As soon as we lose a goal, or the goal summed it up how sloppy we were.

"The first 20-25 minutes it was far too easy down their left and down our left in particular. It was an awful goal to concede.

"They all know in there, we all said in the dressing room, that if that's as good as we can produce then it simply isn't good enough.

"Individually, collectively, as a team, if we think that's acceptable all of us then it's going to be a long tough season.

"Eventually I'll get a team together that will befit what we're looking for and produce better performances than what we've just seen, the last couple of performances in particular.

"The one thing you have to do is do the basics right. We'll go back on Monday morning and do the basics right, because we didn't do that today.

"We gave the ball away too cheaply, we were sloppy, the organisation and shape was - at times - awful and that is an effect of chasing the game the way we did. We're not very good at it."

McCormack has to justify price tag, says Bruce

Bruce also challenged Scottish international McCormack, who has scored just three goals - and only one in his last 14 league appearances - since a £12 million move from Fulham in the summer to find his form in front of goal.

He added: "There's no disputing that he's had a tough time. He had our biggest glaring chance of the whole game, the one bit of quality that we have shown.

"Let's be fair to Ross, he should score it. He knows that. It's unfortunate at the moment, but that's the way it's going for him.

"He's had a tough time. It hasn't happened for him.

"He, personally, has to dig deep and find why we invested so heavily in him and find that form, which can hopefully turn us round."