Manchester Evenings News – Opinion
Manchester City fans have arguably seen just one glimpse of the ‘proper’ Jack Grealish in a blue shirt so far this season.
Against RB Leipzig on his Champions League debut, Grealish came in off the left, shaped up his defender, and curled a fine effort into the far corner for his second City goal. His first bounced off him and into the goal after he did well to get in position, but it was hardly the ‘vintage Grealish’ that persuaded City to pay a club record and British record fee to sign him.null
That version of Grealish was the swashbuckling, fearless winger who could take on anyone, win free kicks for fun, score important goals and pop up with a fair share of assists. He seemed a perfect addition to City’s fluid attack, especially given the £60m of transfer fees raised this year to offset his £100m fee.
With two goals and two assists from ten appearances so far, it’s been a steady (if unspectacular) start to life at City. Recent performances against Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool were not terrible, but they were hardly match-winning and have led to some questions over his start at the club.
Going purely off his goals and assists, a goal involvement per 184 minutes of football isn’t ideal, and has to be seen as a platform to build on. This is a completely different team to the one he captained at Aston Villa, with new expectations and a higher level of internal pressure to keep his place.
Although he will have to improve his goals output to continue to keep Raheem Sterling out of the side on the left, fans should remember Pep Guardiola’s comments about Grealish after his cameo debut in the Community Shield – he’s been signed for five or six years, not 25 minutes, or even ten games.
He’s being allowed to play his way into form, and that means giving him time to adapt to Guardiola’s demands. Other arrivals have taken a year or two to fully master the manager’s approach.