Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

‘That is the problem’ – Jack Grealish given key advice on how to change Man City career


Jack Grealish has been told how he must adapt his game to ensure his £100m move to Manchester City isn’t written off as a bad one.

Man City made Grealish their record signing in the summer when activating a release clause to take him from Aston Villa. It brought an emotional end to his time with his boyhood club – and also marked a step up in his career.

Since joining the champions, though, Grealish has struggled to express himself as much as he did for Villa. Indeed, he only has two goals and two assists in the 2021-22 Premier League so far.

The limelight has been on the £100m man, even though Pep Guardiola has protected him.

But it would be easy for pundits to comment on things not working out for the England international. Though Paul Merson believes there are natural reasons behind his slow start.

Merson told Sky Sports: “I didn’t think it would be a walk in the park for Jack Grealish at Manchester City, but it’s been hard for him so far. We’re talking about a player who whenever Aston Villa got the ball, they looked for him; it was like, ‘give the ball to Jack’.

“That isn’t the case at City. It’s pass and move, pass and move. Instead of passing the ball to Grealish, the full-backs at City pass it inside; that would never happen at Villa.”

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The pundit, formerly of Villa himself, continued: “Jack seems to be chasing the game every time I watch him play; he’s always trying to do something special to prove why he was bought for £100m.

“It’s been hard for him and things haven’t worked out for him at City yet. Sometimes the grass is not always greener.

“He was at a club, a big club in Aston Villa, he was the big fish and touched the ball as many times as he wanted to touch it. He’s just not touching the ball as much at City, and that is the problem.

“Let’s be honest, he’s one of the best dribblers we’ve seen. He’s a joy to watch, but we’re not seeing that Jack Grealish at Manchester City because they don’t play that way.”

Jack Grealish told to adapt

Jack Grealish Man City

Although there are style issues behind his struggles so far, there are ways Grealish can change his game to integrate better.

Merson wants to see him keep doing what he is good at, but take a leaf out of a teammate’s book by simplifying his game.

He added: “At the moment, Grealish is finding it hard to do what’s required. He’s chasing things and you can see he’s desperately trying to produce something to convince everyone he’s a decent player. He is a decent player, he’s just got to keep it simple, and it will come.

“Raheem Sterling has learned to keep it simple. How many times have we seen him arrive at the back post and tap the ball in from a few yards? People say, ‘Sterling couldn’t miss’, but it’s not like he was pushing defenders out of the way to score. There is an art to getting in the right place.

Sterling comparison made

“Sterling took time to work that out but now he knows, and that is what Grealish has to do. The problem for Jack is that it’s hard to get a run in the team to finesse these details; there are too many top players at City.

“I think it will be hard for Grealish to completely reinvent his game. He’s played this way since he was six, probably. He’s been at Villa’s academy, he was a dribbler from the outset, and they rightly encouraged him to stick to his strengths and express himself.

“When you’re a kid, academies aren’t going to make you change something you are good at because you’re better off being a nine out of 10 for dribbling instead of a six out of 10 across the board. You’ve got to be special at something, and Grealish is special at dribbling; I don’t know anybody like him, he does everything.

“Now, all of a sudden, Grealish has got to pretty much change his game. People think that because City paid £100m for him he should be able to adapt straight away. But no, it doesn’t work like that. He’s a top-drawer player but it will take time to make those tweaks.”

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