City adaption has been “difficult” admits £100m man

grealish benched

Jack Grealish had admitted that adapting to life at Manchester City has been much harder than he anticipated. The former Aston Villa man signed for City last summer for £100m, breaking English football’s transfer record but has failed to hit the heights expected of him so far. 

Recently, he has been enjoying a run in the starting eleven but it has also coincided with the Blues slipping further behind Arsenal in the Premier League title race. 

Speaking to SkySports after his assist helped City on their way to a much-needed three points away at Chelsea last night, the 27-year-old was as candid as ever as he admitted to finding the adaption process difficult after spending much of his life with Aston Villa. He said:

“When I came here, I’ll be honest with you, it was so much more difficult than I thought. In my head I thought I was going to the team sitting top of the league and I was going to get so many goals and assists and obviously it isn’t the case. A lot of teams tend to sit in against use and that wasn’t the case at Villa.”

Craving freedom 

At Aston Villa, particularly under Dean Smith, Grealish was far and away the club’s best player. Everything they did went through him and he had the license to go wherever he wanted to do what he thought was best for the team. 

Under Pep Guardiola, however, the system is a lot more rigid. Players have set roles and are expected to perform exactly how the Spaniard demands. Not only that, but Grealish rarely has overlapping fullbacks next to him with Guardiola preferring to bring his fullback into the centre of the pitch to dominate the ball. 

“Dean Smith would tell me to go and find the weak link in the defence, whether that be on the right, the middle or whether I wanted to hug the touchline – and at Villa, I always had an overlapping full-back.

“I came to City, having been at Villa my whole life, and I’ve never had to change. I’ve always been used to that. I didn’t realise how hard it is to adapt to a different team and manager.”


Weapons from the bench

While Grealish has been starting plenty of games recently, it may well be the case that he is more dangerous in this City team coming off the bench, just as he did last night against Chelsea to great effect. 

The England international and Riyad Mahrez were only on the pitch for three minutes before they combined to give Guardiola’s side a massive goal in the Premier League title race. After the game, Guardiola reserved special praise for the pair:

“Grealish’s body language is exceptional if he plays or doesn’t play – these type of guys always play good. With Riyad, I knew the space would be there for him. He’s good one-on-one in the final third.”

Grealish also admitted that both himself and Mahrez were “desperate” to come on after toiling against a stubborn Everton defence at the weekend.