Aston Villa manager Dean Smith says he has an “awful lot of respect” for Steve Bruce, before Newcastle’s visit to Villa Park on Monday.
Bruce was sacked by the Midlands club in October 2018, four months after losing the Championship play-off final.
His relationship with the Villa fans turned sour, with one supporter throwing a cabbage at Bruce before his final game in charge.
“I thought it was a disgrace,” Smith said of the incident.
“I have an awful lot of respect for what he has done in management but, more importantly, for how he is as a man.”
Bruce guided Villa into the Championship play-offs in his first full season in charge, only for the Claret and Blues to lose 1-0 to Slavisa Jokanovic’s Fulham at Wembley Stadium.
The 58-year-old endured a poor start to his Newcastle tenure after joining the Magpies from Sheffield Wednesday in July, but a run of seven points from a possible nine has lifted the Magpies away from the relegation zone in recent weeks.
“There were a lot of questions about the club and where it was going,” added Smith, who guided Villa to promotion via the play-offs last season. “But Steve has gone in and done what he does best – got them organised.
“They’ve got pace and power up front. They are winning games – they’ve won the last couple – and they beat Manchester United at home as well. They are in a good run of form at the moment.”
Villa go into the game in 17th, three places and four points below the Magpies in the standings.