Jack Grealish has a problem at Man City that Dean Smith and Aston Villa never gave him
Jack Grealish is no longer the big “little pond” fish he used to be at Aston Villa.
The soft-haired playmaker is now surrounded by a plethora of world-class talent at Manchester City after his record-breaking £ 100million transfer this summer.
Grealish knew what to expect at Manchester, but he left his childhood club in search of trophies – and, let’s face it, playing for City almost guarantees medals.
His replacement in City’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Sunday, when Pep Guardiola opted to replace him just after the hour mark with Raheem Sterling, highlighted the change that Grealish is now accepting.
Before Grealish suffered the shin injury that derailed his last season in burgundy and blue, he was only replaced once by Dean Smith. And that was only to give Grealish a five-minute break as Villa headed for victory over Newcastle United.
Smith never hooked Grealish, even when he was playing poorly. On Sunday, for the first time in years, Grealish was knocked out because Guardiola had a better option for the final 30 minutes at Sterling.
In fairness to Grealish, his below-par performance at Anfield probably had something to do with being played in an unknown false position of nine. City’s failure to sign Harry Kane over the summer means someone has to play there, however.
Guardiola has Sterling, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Ferran Torres, Rihad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus to choose from, while Kevin De Bruyne also played the false position nine, so Grealish won’t always be guaranteed a place in the top three. of City.
Grealish is the only forward who has yet to be replaced by Guardiola, starting City’s nine appearances in the Premier League and Champions League.
That will change though. “Although Grealish has so far been insensitive to Guardiola’s revolving doors – possibly due to the £ 100million investment – it won’t last,” writes Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News.
There is only one way to guarantee selection under Guardiola: numbers. Goals and assists make a player unbeatable, something Grealish is well aware of having focused on achieving a high numerical comeback in his final season with Villa to boost his chances in England.
So what do City’s number 10 stats say?
Grealish is a player who likes to have the ball at his feet, which is evidenced by the fact that he has had more touches than any other player in the opposing team’s penalty area.
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Very few players are better dribblers than Grealish, but he has only completed 11 of the 19 dribbles he has attempted in the Premier League this season.
He did, however, produce more “progressive ball gates” than any other player in the league, with 97 runs over five yards with the ball at his feet.
These stats suggest that Grealish’s game hasn’t changed much under Guardiola, but he doesn’t have as much of the ball as in Villa’s setup.
This is to be expected given the talent within City’s attack, they are certainly not the “one-man team” that Villa has been accused of being, much to Smith’s frustration – although the head coach admits his team were ‘too dependent on times’ on Grealish.
The point is, Grealish only managed two goals and one assist in nine starts for City.
When you compare that to the seven goals and 10 assists he scored in 27 games for Villa last season, it’s clear that Grealish’s form is not where it should be.
Ex-Villan Stan Collymore, who still remains in touch with Grealish, gave his take on the 26-year-old’s situation in his latest column for The Mirror.
“I really don’t want the £ 100million summer signing to just become one of the seven or eight midfielders the manager can choose to do a job because then that’s an easy path to become just another player.”
City will give Grealish the trophies he dreams of, but there is still a long way to go before he achieves the unbeatable status he had at Villa Park.
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