Steve Bruce urges Aston Villa star Jack Grealish to stay
Steve Bruce has urged Jack Grealish to stay at Aston Villa for another season following defeat in the play-off final.
Grealish was one of Villa's stand-out performers during today's 1-0 defeat to Fulham, and after watching him get kicked from pillar to post on the Wembley turf, Bruce said Slavisa Jokanovic's side targeted his No.10.
Now they have failed to go up, Villa could be forced to sell players this summer in order to balance the books because their parachute payments from the Premier League will be reduced again.
But Bruce doesn't want Grealish to be one of those leaving the club.
"Of course there's going to be speculation over Jack," said Bruce. "Me personally, I would like him to stay. I think another year with us would do him the world of good.
"That's my personal view. He's playing regular football week in, week out, we'll see what happens."
Grealish was fouled in the play-off final more than any other player had been fouled in a Championship game this season.
Bruce felt the 22-year-old was targeted, and he was particularly incensed by a stamp from Ryan Fredericks in the first half right by the managers on the touchline.
The Fulham full-back escaped punishment, but Bruce thought it was a red card. However, he said that was no excuse for the performance.
"I don't think we did enough," said Bruce. "Those big decisions that went against us too.
"The boy for me should have had a red card very early. That was right in front of the fourth official and the referee.
"For me, he stamps on him. Nobody wants to see spectacles ruined but you need big decisions like that.
"Could have been a penalty in the second half but what we can't disguise is that we didn't do enough in the first half and that's disappointing.
"Second half we were much better, asked a few more questions of them, and we just needed a break but we didn't get it."
Grealish's performance was a mixed bag. He nearly scored a wondergoal in the second half after a mazy dribble, but let Tom Cairney go in the lead-up to Fulham's winner and might have seen red himself after lunging in on the Fulham captain.
However, almost everything Villa did well came through the 22-year-old and when Bruce was asked if he thought Fulham targeted Grealish, he said: "Yes. It's part of their gameplan, they were a bit cynical towards him on the break but at the end of the day I don't want to make that an excuse.
"It's not me to make excuses, in the first half in particular we didn't do enough.
"Certainly Jack, the way he plays is going to draw the foul, we just needed that run, which he went on which got everybody off their seats, to go in the back of the net.
"If he'd scored, I'm sure we would have gone on to win the match.
"We didn't do enough around him, especially first half. Second half, we were much better ant to be brutally honest and that wouldn't have been hard.
"First half we were so disappointing, too deep, too respectful and we didn't do enough with or without the ball, especially with the ball.
"We didn't put any real pressure on Fulham. Soon as we did that it's a totally different game."