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Jack Grealish needs to show City his bollocks again

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Jack Grealish has adapted a little too well to being a cog in the Manchester City machine; they didn’t pay £100m for a cog.

 

There has always been an assumption that Jack Grealish is powered as much by ego as talent, driven by a desire to take centre stage to whoops of adoration and gasps of awe. On that basis, Manchester City was a curious choice of club, unloved as they are by most outside a small area of the north-west. And even the love of City fans was likely to be elusive with so many heroes already at the club, and none of them costing £100m. Nobody loves a record signing unless the record signing does something remarkable. So far, it’s all been some way short of remarkable.

That’s not to say that this transfer has been a disaster; Grealish could yet win the Treble and could yet play a significant part in winning that Treble. But right now his contribution to what could still be a magnificent season for City would put him below halfway in a squad list, somewhere near Gabriel Jesus but way, way below Riyad Mahrez. There lingers the suspicion that City would be really no better or worse if they had decided to pass on the Villa captain and muddle along without him instead.

If there were any doubts about City buying Grealish it might have been whether the main man, the cock of the walk, the big dog, would struggle to adapt to the more collective approach at City. The reality is that Grealish has probably adapted too well, handing in his ego at the gate and embracing the City system to become another cog in the machine. The catch here is that Pep Guardiola clearly did not want another cog – he could have bought that far more cheaply elsewhere – but craved the stardust of Grealish. For all the public noises about being unworried by the tangible results of Grealish’s endeavour, those in the City know say that he wants the England man to be more selfish.

While he tops the whole of the Premier League for SCA/90, which basically measures how involved a player is in attacking play that leads to attempts on goal, Guardiola will not need reminding that Grealish is taking fewer shots than his left-back and considerably fewer shots than almost all his rivals for a place in any City attacking quartet. After trying to win games on his own for Aston Villa, he has adapted too seamlessly to trying to win games by group asphyxiation.

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There were moments in England’s win over Ivory Coast on Tuesday when we saw the show-off again, released from the shackles of a system and the pressures of a trophy pursuit to simply try and entertain, to be the player who made the difference between dull and dynamic. City might need to see that version of Grealish over the next two months as they enter the final straight in a ridiculous battle for supremacy with a Liverpool side perhaps blessed with more selfishness (among their forward players at least).

We have not seen enough of the Grealish ego at Manchester City; despite being the most expensive recruit, he is perhaps all too aware that there are players already there with at least equal talent and a far greater collection of trophies. He has erred on the side of being risk-averse and the one thing City did not want from Grealish was risk-averse. They could have bought risk-averse for less than half the price.

This season alone will not decide that Grealish was not worth City breaking records – there are many players who have taken two seasons or more to adapt to Guardiola and his methods –  but it could decide that he was worth it. That status could be claimed with a moment that wins the Premier League or wins the Champions League, just as Kai Havertz went from a curiosity to a Chelsea hero with his strike to beat City last spring. And the Grealish we saw at Villa is more than capable of producing such a moment. City need Bertie Big Bollocks to emerge again.

The post Jack Grealish needs to show City his bollocks again appeared first on Football365.

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