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Steve Bruce confirmed as Aston Villa manager by new Chinese owner Tony Xia

Steve Bruce has been confirmed as the new manager at former European champions Aston Villa, new Chinese owner and club chairman Dr Tony Xia said.

Bruce, 55, replaces the sacked Roberto Di Matteo and his first game in charge will be Saturday’s Midlands derby against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“I believe Aston Villa will return to the Premier League soon … at most within two years,” Xia said.

“In fact, [former manager] Roberto Di Matteo could also have been able to bring Villa back to the Premier League by the end of this season … but we are under pressure now to achieve the goal as soon as possible.”

Villa spent £55 million (HK$523.7 million) in the summer, with Xia signing nine senior players.

Bruce, who quit as manager of Hull City in July, has also been at the helm of Villa’s arch-rivals Birmingham City among his previous jobs.

Assistant coach Steve Clarke has been in charge as caretaker manager during the Midlands club’s search for a new coach.

Villa, one of England’s traditionally big clubs, are 19th in the 24-team Championship table with 10 points from 11 games.

Di Matteo took over in June after Villa were relegated from the Premier League last season, but their disappointing start to life in the Championship saw the Italian sacked after 124 days.

The Italian, who steered Chelsea to the Champions League in 2012, managed one win in 11 league matches with Villa. They also lost in the League Cup first round to fourth tier Luton Town.

The seven-time English champions are in the second tier for the first time since promotion to the top flight in 1988.

Additional reporting by Reuters