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If not for officiating mistake, could Steve Bruce still be Villa manager?

(photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Aston Villa

If not for officiating mistake, could Steve Bruce still be Villa manager?

When Steve Bruce was sacked as Aston Villa manager last week, many cited the play-off final defeat against Fulham in May as a crucial turning point.

And one moment in particular stands out of the match: Ryan Fredericks’  apparent stamp on Jack Grealish towards the end of the first half at Wembley.

With the Villa play-maker lying on the floor, the Fulham full-back seemingly brought his studs down on Grealish’s right knee. It was a gruesome incident that occurred right under the nose of both the fourth official and Steve Bruce, whose arms were raised aloft in disbelief at the challenge.

(Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

In the end, Fredericks escaped severe punishment and remained on the pitch. If the right-back had been sent off in the first half, Villa would have been heavily favoured to win the match and gain promotion to the Premier League.

Fulham supporters will nevertheless point out Villa did end up going a man up, when Denis Odoi was sent off with 20 minutes to go, but the club could not bag an equaliser.

But if Fredericks had correctly been sent off in the opening half, it possibly could have been a very different story, with Villa in the Premier League and Steve Bruce still in a job.

Max is a journalist studying at the University of Pennsylvania. Max specialises in English football and co-hosts a weekly podcast. He is also a politics reporter and deputy news editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian.

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