Pep Guardiola launched a defense of Jack Grealish, suggesting it is his responsibility and that of the rest of his Manchester City squad to make the most of the club-record signing.
Grealish was substituted before the hour mark in Wednesday’s Champions League group stage win over Borussia Dortmund after struggling to make an impact and is yet to score in five appearances this season.
The 27-year-old has just six goals and four assists to his name since joining a £100m move from Aston Villa last year, a move that has made him the most expensive player in British football history.
Grealish has nevertheless been named in Gareth Southgate’s 28-man England squad for the upcoming Nations League clashes against Italy and Germany, and is expected to be on the plane to Qatar in November for the FIFA Cup. world this winter.
Guardiola attributed Grealish’s form to an ankle injury which disrupted his start to the season, but also defended his performance against Dortmund, and instead claimed his own teammates had left him ‘isolated’ by not taking any goalscoring position.
“He started very well but had to stop with an ankle problem and we were lucky it wasn’t worse,” said the City manager.
“In the last game in the final third, he was the only one making aggressive one-on-one runs, but to make assists he didn’t have his teammates in the box, so we left him isolated. When he goes against the side back, only Erling [Haaland] what he.
“[Ilkay] gundo[gan] what’s not there, Kevin [De Bruyne] wasn’t there and they should be there. In the first half, especially with the ball, we didn’t make any moves to help the players who had the ball and give him more opportunities to make things easier.”
Guardiola added: “I know him and I’m more than happy and delighted with what he’s doing. Now it’s only a matter of time to regain some of the momentum he had at the start. of the season.”
Grealish’s lack of goals and assists for City has been a frequent criticism since his arrival in the summer of 2021, but Guardiola has always insisted there is more to his game, while he doesn’t. wasn’t always a high-powered offensive player.
The 27-year-old’s most notable season in his eight years as a Villa player was the 2019-20 campaign – the only season in which he reached double figures in all competitions – when he scored 10 goals to help keep his newly promoted. the boyhood club survives relegation.
Even with England, his only goal in 23 caps was the fifth in a 5-0 win over Andorran minnows last year, but Grealish was this week included in Gareth Southgate’s 28-man squad for the upcoming Nations League clashes against Italy and Germany.
“We didn’t sign for the amazing goals or assists at Aston Villa. That was another reason and when he played he did,” Guardiola insisted. , the best players and he knows it perfectly, but never complains about it.
“He’s such a nice guy and in games when he wasn’t playing he’s the first to help the team and in training sessions he’s always there. I’m delighted with his behavior and everything.
“I want to score goals and I want to make assists and he does that too, but it’s not about that. It’s about his contribution off the ball and what he can produce for others and the many, many things he’s capable of.”
Asked what he wants from Grealish, Guardiola said: “‘To understand us, and we can understand him and just to have what little continuity I’m trying to give him, because he deserves it.
“It’s to be what he is as a football player. All the time we ask them to be themselves, don’t think you’re what people expect you to be.
“Be yourself, as a person and especially as a football player, and that must be your only concern, try to become better today than yesterday, and tomorrow you must be better than today . I’m not going to ask them to do something they can’t do or don’t want to do.”