Simple human decency can be in short supply sometimes in football. Especially on Twitter and Facebook, the tribalism, the trolling and even hatred that pervades both platforms can be a bit disheartening.
One of the things that has certainly shone through this season is the resolve of Steve Bruce. The manager has battled through the most difficult time in his life following the death of his parents within an 88 day period this year.
The fact that he has continued working through that time has been a testament to the character and strength of the man. It is also something the players will have in their heads as they head out on to the Wembley pitch on Saturday.
Jack Grealish talked about this during his interview with the Mirror at the weekend:
“I’m praying we win it – just for him. A lot of people think like that. He’s such a nice bloke, and one of the best, if not the best, managers I have played for.”
For our no.10, his determination to win for Bruce isn’t just due to his sympathies for his manager’s situation. The midfielder learned first hand during his health scare earlier in the season the type of man the Villa boss is.
Jack was scared for his life after undergoing emergency surgery on his Kidney, but the manager visited the hospital, facetimed him every other day, and kept in constant contact.
His return to fitness, and return to form is in no small part down to him wanting to repay Bruce’s faith. Footballers are not known for being shy when it comes to dedicating goals or wins, but if we do win the playoff final at the weekend, there is no doubt that his dedication will be 100% heartfelt and genuine.
Grealish describes his boss as someone with a “lovely heart.” From a 22-year-old man who has a chequered history with previous managers that is quite some praise for the current man in charge.
I’m sure Jack’s sentiments are shared by all members of the current squad too. You can see how united this team are, and they will need that belief and resolve to carry them through to win against Fulham at Wembley.