Acclimatising to Championship football proved a difficult task for Aston Villa, despite the club investing millions of pounds into a vast array of new talents.

Steve Bruce will enter the new season under some pressure, and Chinese chairman Tony Xia will surely expect the former Hull City boss to inspire his side to a strong start to the new campaign.

Villa fans will feel that their club should be back in the big time of the Premier League, and will hope for a top six finish as a minimum expectation for next season, as will chairman Xia.

Villa are but a couple of solid signings away from launching a promotion bid next season after building a strong squad over the course of the last two transfer windows, and this summer must be the window in which Bruce perfects his side.

Midfield will be a key battling ground for Villa’s title hopes, and Steve Bruce should look to this pairing in the middle to ensure a sustained push for promotion next year.