Steve Bruce hopeful of Aston Villa stay despite play-off final defeat

Steve Bruce was frustrated with the level of officiating during their play-off final against Fulham and believed Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off for a stamp on Jack Grealish

Steve Bruce has signalled his desire to stay at Aston Villa despite their failure to win promotion back to the Premier League.

Tom Cairney’s goal saw Fulham through to a 1-0 victory in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley on Saturday, condemning Villa to a third season in the second tier. Bruce, however, hopes to be the man to try and steer them back to the top flight again next season.

“I’m in charge of a great club with great tradition, history and support,” he said. “I’m gutted for everybody but I’ll roll my sleeves up and get stuck into it again, because that’s what I do. As long as the people above me want me to do it then I’ll carry on.”

Bruce admits his side fell short of expectation in the first half at Wembley, but does feel that Ryan Fredericks should have been sent off for an apparent stamp on Jack Grealish.

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship Play-off final between Aston Villa and Fulham

“We didn’t do enough in the first half,” said Bruce. “We were too deep and too respectful and didn’t do enough with or without the ball to create any real pressure on Fulham. Whether it was the occasion or the heat, who knows? But we just didn’t do enough.

“But there were big decisions that went against us too. [Fredericks] for me should have had a red card early on, it was right in front of the referee and the fourth official. No one wants to see a spectacle ruined but when it’s deliberate as that he deserves one.

“It was part of their game-plan and it was a bit cynical but I don’t want to make that the excuse. Jack, with the way he plays, is going to draw a foul.

“Second half we were much better and asked a few more questions, but to be brutally honest that wasn’t hard. Then you just need a break and unfortunately, we didn’t get it. “We just needed that run [Grealish] went on that got everyone out of the seats to go in, and if it had then I’m sure we would have gone on to win the match.”

There will undoubtedly be summer speculation over the future of Grealish and captain John Terry, and Bruce hopes both will stay with him at the club.

“I’d like [Jack] to stay and I think another year with us would do him the world of good,” said Bruce. “We’d love to give him a Premier League platform but he’s playing regular football here. We’ll have to see what happens.

Fulham match winner Tom Cairney describes the feeling of scoring the winning goal in the Championship play-off final against Aston Villa

“John’s future will depend on him I think. There will be discussions over the next few weeks and it will be with him what he wants to do. He [had an option] if we’d gone up, but obviously, we haven’t got that now.”

For now, however, the feeling is one of sheer disappointment for Bruce, and he admits it will take him a few days to recover before considering the next step.

“The feeling now is utter disappointment and the hard part over the next few days is seeing where to go from here,” he said. “There are a lot of discussions to be had to see where we go next.

“It’s been difficult financially this season with Financial Fair Play and we have to see what we’ve got and what we haven’t got. It will be tough but we’ll dust ourselves down and accept defeat. We’ve come close but not quite close enough and we’ll try again.”

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