Gareth Southgate believes Jack Grealish felt ‘anxiety’ about not winning a trophy at Manchester City – and claims the midfielder’s role in Pep Guardiola’s squad is ‘more aligned’ with playing for England
- Gareth Southgate has seen tactical improvements in Jack Grealish with Man City
- The England boss feels he was ‘hammered’ last summer for not picking Grealish
- Grealish would have felt some ‘anxiety’ about winning a trophy, Southgate says
- Midfielder Grealish lifted the Premier League with City after leaving Aston Villa
Gareth Southgate says that winning the Premier League at Manchester City will reassure Jack Grealish after his mixed first season under Pep Guardiola.
But the England manager insists Grealish is a much more complete player now, despite contributing just three assists and three goals after his £100m move from Aston Villa last summer.
‘It’s interesting that I spent the whole summer getting hammered for not picking him, now I’m being told I shouldn’t be picking him. But that’s my world,’ said Southgate.
England manager Gareth Southgate (left) says he was ‘hammered’ for benching Jack Grealish
The Three Lions boss feels Grealish has improved since signing for Pep Guardiola at Man City
‘That’s quite transient with lots of different players. I imagine there would have been some anxiety about going there and not winning a trophy.
‘He’s now done that so I’m sure he’ll feel a little bit calmer. He would have hated the accusation that he had gone there and not won anything.’
Grealish exuberantly led City’s title celebrations, swigging beer while light-heartedly goading team-mates on the microphone, proving that he has not lost any lust for life.
But Southgate says you are beginning to see a much more mature team player on the pitch.
Grealish signed for City from Aston Villa for £100m last summer and won the Premier League
‘He’s learned a lot positionally,’ said the England boss. ‘Tactically, his working without the ball has improved over a period of 18 months.
‘At Villa it was quite unique, he was the one who gave them hope, got them up the pitch, had total freedom with what he did.
‘It’s a very different ask at this club, more aligned with what we’ve asked him to do. He is that free spirit, as we’ve seen over the last 48 hours, that just wants to enjoy his football as well. He is what he is.
‘If you’d said to me he’s not going to score 20 goals this year, I wouldn’t have expected that. He’s the one who likes to be the provider, who might play a pass before the assist, he’s a different type of player.
‘Whether he adds getting on the far post, like Raheem [Sterling] has done over a number of seasons, maybe he will, maybe he won’t, but I don’t know if that’s how he’s wired. He gets as much enjoyment out of creating as he does scoring.’