London (AFP) – Steve Bruce began life as Aston Villa boss with a fortunate 1-1 draw at home to Wolves in their Championship clash on Saturday.
Bruce, who is Villa’s fourth full-time manager since Paul Lambert was shown the door in January 2015, at least saw his side climb out of the relegation places but Wolves will be kicking themselves for not taking a hatful of chances.
Villa have won just once in 12 Championship matches since being relegated, but the hosts made a great start as Ivory Coast international Jonathan Kodjia stroked home a penalty on the quarter-hour mark.
However, Wolves, Chinese-owned like Villa, levelled before the break through a penalty of their own, Helder Costa converting it.
Villa owner Tony Xia, though, will hope Bruce can work his magic at this level having been promoted in his last four seasons managing in the Championship.
Former England manager Steve McClaren got off to a winning start on his return to the Derby County dugout, eking out a nervy 1-0 victory over Leeds United.
Johnny Russell got the only goal in a game where Leeds struck the woodwork twice but County held on for just their third win of the campaign.
“I think you could see the nervousness of the players but they showed fight and the attitude was great,” said McClaren.
“I saw certain aspects I like and potential in the team but there is a lot of work and a long way to go,” added the 55-year-old.
Both Bruce and McClaren, though, have a whole load of ground to make up on the leaders.
– Norwich, Newcastle roll on –
Norwich went top by a point over fellow relegated Premier League side Newcastle and Huddersfield — who play Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday — with a 3-1 win over bottom side Rotherham.
Goals from Republic of Ireland international Wes Hoolahan, Cameron Jerome and veteran Scotland international Steven Naismith sealed a comfortable victory.
“I think we are where we deserve to be (at the top of the table) because you don’t get there by chance,” said Canaries boss Alex Neil.
“The lads have done really well so far and it was good to get another win with both Robbie Brady and Jonny Howson on the sidelines.
“But as I keep saying there is a long way to go yet.”
Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez, who like Neil stayed put despite relegation, was delighted with his side’s impressive 3-1 win over Brentford played out in front of a staggering crowd of 51,185.
Goals by former Villa defender Ciaran Clark and a double by the in-form Dwight Gayle — taking his total to nine in 10 apperances for Newcastle — saw them comfortably home.
“I’m pleased because after the international break it’s not easy,” said Benitez, whose side have won eight of their last 10 league games.
“We did everything we wanted to do — we controlled the game and had good chances.
“I’m not watching the table because it’s too soon. I said the other day I was convinced we could improve; I’m pleased but we can still improve.”
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