sport news Sheffield United 4-1 Aston Villa: The Blades batter old boy Steve Bruce

After losing both his parents in the space of a few weeks earlier this year, Steve Bruce is more able than most to keep matters in perspective when it comes to the highs and lows of a mere football match.

Nevertheless, his latest return to this corner of South Yorkshire turned into one of the more chastening afternoons of a rollercoaster career in management launched two decades ago at Bramall Lane, as his Aston Villa side were stripped of their unbeaten league start in rather ignominious style.

Sheffield United on the other hand continue to build momentum thanks to a fourth successive league victory, one which leaves them third and, on this evidence at least, more than capable of sustaining a challenge for promotion over the coming months.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp celebrates putting the Blades 4-0 up at home to Aston Villa

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp celebrates putting the Blades 4-0 up at home to Aston Villa

Steve Bruce was embarrassed by the display admitting: ‘We had our a**e well and truly kicked'

Steve Bruce was embarrassed by the display admitting: ‘We had our a**e well and truly kicked'

The three-goal margin actually flattered Villa. They will welcome the attacking talents of recent signings Tammy Abraham and Yannick Bolasie after the international break but look to be more in need of reinforcements at the back in the wake of a shambolic first-half display.

‘We had our a**e well and truly kicked,’ admitted Bruce, who conceded his side’s performance bordered on embarrassing.

‘We will improve, we know we have to. As manager of this club you’re always under pressure and probably a week away from being in crisis. Any more repeat performances like that and we all know the consequences.

‘To be fair to them, I had four or five players who got off the treatment

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