'What does anyone see in him?' - how Grealish answered critics

3 months ago 8
'Pep's addicted to shot - I've learned truthful much' - Grealish connected beingness astatine Man City
Date: Saturday, 3 June Venue: Wembley Stadium Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Coverage: Watch unrecorded connected BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website & app; perceive to afloat commentary connected BBC Radio 5 Live; travel unrecorded substance connected BBC Sport website.

Nathan Harmston was sitting astatine location precocious connected the evening of 9 May erstwhile his mobile telephone pinged.

A mates of hours earlier, Nathan had been watching connected tv arsenic Manchester City played Real Madrid successful the Champions League semi-final. Now, helium was receiving a video connection from Jack Grealish.

The message, recorded soon aft the 1-1 archetypal limb gully successful Spain, was for Nathan's father, Rob, a lifelong City supporter, who was successful the intensive attraction portion astatine Leighton Hospital, successful Crewe.

"Hi Rob, I've heard you're not doing excessively good astatine the infinitesimal truthful I conscionable privation to nonstop each my emotion and support," said Grealish,external-link inactive dressed successful his kit with the Bernabeu Stadium successful the background.

One infinitesimal helium was mounting up chances for Erling Haaland, the adjacent helium was sending get good messages to supporters. It is not hard to spot wherefore the England midfielder is cherished by City's fanbase - and not conscionable due to the fact that helium is maturing into an outstanding all-round subordinate with exceptional decision-making skills.

Grealish inactive has that somewhat cheeky persona that Aston Villa fans fell successful emotion with yet helium has shown the thrust to beryllium a cardinal constituent successful Manchester City's pursuit for a singular Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup Treble. He has done it each with a grin connected his face.

His clip astatine City has not ever been fun, however, arsenic Grealish acknowledged successful January erstwhile helium said that leaving hometown nine Villa successful August 2021 and adapting to Pep Guardiola's benignant of play had been "much much difficult" than helium imagined.

Yet the erstwhile Solihull schoolboy finds himself connected the cusp of greatness astatine City, who are 2 wins from becoming lone the 2nd English squad to triumph the Treble, aft Manchester United successful 1998-99.

Jack Grealish poses for a selfie with a Bristol City instrumentality   earlier  Manchester City's 3-0 triumph   successful  the FA Cup 5th  circular  successful  FebruaryJack Grealish poses for a selfie with a Bristol City instrumentality earlier Manchester City's 3-0 triumph successful the FA Cup 5th circular successful February

Has Grealish made himself undroppable?

It was lone past September that erstwhile Liverpool midfielder Graeme Souness told Talksportexternal-link that Manchester City's £100m signing was "a bully player, not a large player".

Even personage City instrumentality Noel Gallagher was unconvinced by Grealish astatine first.

"I'll beryllium the archetypal to admit, I was astatine the archetypal Premier League crippled helium played for us, distant to Tottenham," the erstwhile Oasis prima told BBC Sport.

"I was thinking: 'Really? Do we request different midfielder connected apical of Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and everyone else?' And past that archetypal season, I was like: 'I don't cognize what anyone sees successful this feline astatine all.'"

Since returning from the World Cup, however, Grealish has go astir undroppable for the large games.

Before past Sunday's 1-0 decision astatine Brentford, Guardiola's broadside were unbeaten successful 25 matches successful each competitions. Grealish started successful 19 of them.

The six helium was near retired see the FA Cup ties against Bristol City and Burnley, 2 Premier League games astir the Real Madrid semi-final, the triumph implicit Chelsea connected 21 May aft City's 5th Premier League rubric successful six seasons had been confirmed, and the 1-1 gully astatine Brighton 3 days later.

Premier League 2022-23MinutesSecondary assists
Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)31509
Kevin de Bruyne (Man City24268
Jack Grealish (Man City)20636
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)29306
Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)31916
Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)33186

His statistic amusement wherefore helium has go arsenic important for Guardiola arsenic midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who finished with much assists than anyone other successful the Premier League successful 2022-23, oregon record-breaking guardant Haaland.

Grealish has created 35 chances successful this season's Champions League alone, with the last against Inter Milan inactive to travel successful Istanbul connected 10 June. That's the astir connected grounds by an English subordinate successful a azygous season.

Yet his power goes beyond statistics. Grealish is truthful strong, helium is hard to sound disconnected the shot and helps City power the crippled successful a relation that is arsenic important arsenic providing assists and scoring goals.

He has led the mode successful presumption of wingers with the champion passing accuracy connected the Premier League stage, portion his shot retention stats are besides the champion for his position.

"When I came present [Manchester City], I'll beryllium honorable with you, it was truthful overmuch much hard than I thought," Grealish said successful January.

"In my head, I thought I was going to the squad sitting apical of the league and I was going to get truthful galore goals and assists and evidently it isn't the case. A batch of teams thin to beryllium successful against america and that wasn't the lawsuit astatine Villa.

"I didn't realise however hard it is to accommodate to a antithetic squad and manager.

"The main happening present is I consciousness loved. I consciousness the manager truly trusts me."

Micah Richards says helium had thing to bash with Jack Grealish moving to Manchester City

'I bash anserine stuff'

Grealish has had the unusual lapse successful subject since joining City and was dropped on with Fodenexternal-link successful December 2021 aft the brace were pictured successful a nightclub.

He besides jokingly criticised Mahrez erstwhile helium likened 1 of his team-mate's displays to that of Newcastle's Miguel Almiron.

"I bash anserine stuff, that was one," Grealish said successful December of the incident.

Manchester City's Jack Grealish poses for a photograph   with Sir Elton John aft  a concert"He said helium liked my necklace," Jack Grealish told the Daily Mail erstwhile asked astir gathering Sir Elton John aft a caller concert

On the pitch, different illustration of Grealish's power has been his palmy concern with Nathan Ake down the left, which has worked good during City's pursuit for trophies.

"The hardest happening for a centre-back playing astatine full-back is erstwhile helium has to beryllium retired wide, connected the line," Michael Brown, the erstwhile City midfielder, told BBC Sport.

"But erstwhile Ake is retired wide, helium doesn't person to bash thing brainsick and effort to overlap due to the fact that helium has got Grealish successful beforehand of him. He tin accidental to Jack: 'You conscionable spell and bash what you do, I volition conscionable provender you from behind.'"

Grealish has worked hard to triumph Guardiola's trust, according to BBC Sport's shot adept Chris Sutton.

"He got plentifulness of minutes past play but it didn't consciousness similar helium was archetypal choice; helium astir apt felt similar helium was connected the periphery of things," said Sutton.

"This season, that's each changed. If you look done this play and speech astir who the large players person been for City, past Jack Grealish comes into that bracket."

2020-21 (Aston Villa)2021-22 (Man City)2022-23 (Man City)
Games played262628
Games started242223
Minutes played218419172063
Touches successful absorption box168171146

'Dad was adjacent to tears'

Rob, the instrumentality who received the personalised video connection from Grealish, is present retired of the intensive attraction portion and making a bully recovery.

"He was precise affectional and astir connected the verge of tears," said Nathan connected his dad's absorption to the message.

Nathan, who has attended much than 500 City matches since 2005, believes Grealish's worth to the squad is overmuch much than conscionable goals and assists.

"Before the World Cup, helium was a spot deed and miss. He looked frightened to marque mistakes," helium added.

"But helium has travel connected leaps and bounds. He controls the crippled the mode Pep wants. He looks similar helium is enjoying his football."

Jack Grealish kisses the Premier League trophy aft  Manchester City are confirmed 2022-23 championsJack Grealish has won back-to-back Premier League titles since joining Manchester City from Aston Villa
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