Precisely a year since taking the job, Steve Bruce appears to have finally found the remedy for success at Aston Villa.

The manager has guided his team to four successive wins ahead of a crucial month of fixtures with Wolves, Fulham and Birmingham City.

Emerge from this month with a decent points haul and Villa will be well on their way to realising their promotion dream.

But it’s taken a while and there have been plenty of ups and downs along the way for Bruce to reach this point.

Here are five defining moments of his 12 months at the helm:

Recruiting his own staff

Bruce was promised his own staff when he agreed to become boss and he immediately appointed Stephen Clemence and Gary Walsh to the coaching team.

The manager had to remain patient to appoint his assistant before the club finally came to an agreement with Brighton to lure proven No.2 Colin Calderwood to B6 in November.

In addition to those brought in by Bruce, the manager already knew senior members of the club’s scouting team in Tony Coton and Ian Atkins.

McCormack blast

Bruce’s winter rant about Ross McCormack’s failure to turn up to training came completely out of the blue, but as the manager revealed the infamous ‘training-gate’ story to reporters he was delivering a thinly-veiled message to the striker’s colleagues.

The former Hull City chief isn’t known for being a strict disciplinarian but his furious post-match press conference on January 21 told his players that he wouldn’t stand for any of the shenanigans which went on under his predecessors.

January sales

The January transfer window was the first chance for Bruce to shape his Villa team and he immediately looked to offload several players who had been part of the previous season’s ‘Relegators’.

Ashley Westwood, Jordan Ayew and Rudy Gestede were all sold as Bruce made room for the permanent signings of Henri Lansbury, James Bree, Conor Hourihane, Birkir Bjarnason, Scott Hogan and Neil Taylor.

Bruce’s January business didn’t initially pay off and he left himself open to criticism by not getting a striker in early to cover Jonathan Kodjia while the top scorer took part in the Africa Cup of Nations.

The sale of Gestede and absence of Kodjia saw McCormack and Gabby Agbonlahor as Bruce’s only options in attack and the claret and blues scored once in four matches as a result.

While Hourihane has flourished this season alongside compatriot Glenn Whelan and Neil Taylor has been Mr Consistency, the jury is still out on Lansbury, Bree, Bjarnason and Hogan.

Aston Villa's Rudy Gestede scores a penalty against Cardiff City

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JT’s arrival

John Terry is an Aston Villa player because of Steve Bruce - it’s as simple as that.

Bruce put the graft in over the summer months, missing a few putts on the Algarve greens to sweeten the deal, and finally clinched the signing of former England and Chelsea captain JT in early July.

Terry’s arrival set a trend for Bruce’s summer business as Sam Johnstone, Ahmed Elmohamady, Glenn Whelan, Chris Samba, Josh Onomah and Robert Snodgrass all checked in.

Aside from Onomah, who is extremely talented player already making a big impression, Bruce was packing out his squad with experience and knowhow.

However, Terry has a little bit more to offer. The 36-year-old is Bruce’s eyes and ears in the dressing room and is already passing on the tricks and tips which took him to Champions League finals and World Cups to Villa’s young hopefuls.

Trusting youth

Bruce was billed as the quick fix Villa needed to get themselves out of the Championship when he held a claret and blue scarf aloft this time last year.

He wasn’t necessarily thought of as a manager who would focus on building for the future by integrating the club’s best youngsters into his first team fold.

But this season has seen exactly that. With Kodjia out injured and Hogan, McCormack and Agbonlahor misfiring, Bruce placed his trust in 19-year-old Keinan Davis.

The youngster has been undroppable since and has proven himself to be the powerful target man Villa’s attackers needed to thrive off.

Keinan Davis of Aston Villa celebrates