Jack Grealish overcame abuse from Aston Villa fans and criticism from Man City ‘superfans’ to win the Champions League with Pep Guardiola’s side… but he doesn’t entirely consider himself a star
It happens to something when your new club’s so-called ‘superfans’ are on your back before you’ve even kicked a ball, but that’s how it was when Jack Grealish left Villa for Man City.
‘100 f***** million pounds. If so, Foden must be worth more than 500 million, Liam Gallagher was to say two years ago of the player who made himself an indispensable part of the squad that went in search of the ultimate prize.
Grealish is such a divisive character that some fans of Aston Villa, a club he dragged to a higher plain, tweeted last night to say they wanted Inter to win, although the stick that he had from these quarters be a minor anxiety in relation to this. impostor syndrome in the distinct sense he manifested after arriving in Manchester.
Despite that awful exterior and rather overgrown hair, Grealish’s discussion in several interviews about a year ago sounded like someone was desperately trying to fit in among the superstars he didn’t entirely consider himself to be. part.
He revealed how his persistent desire to provide assists for his teammates had some of them wondering why the hell he wasn’t shooting more, when they saw him score on the training ground. “I shoot a lot less than anyone else,” he said at one point. Yeah, maybe he should be more selfish, he nodded.
These observations from the heart on the sleeve are what make Grealish an attractive part of a team that has robotic intensity at the same time and last night presented the chance to cap off a season in which he had watched the skeptics in eyes and saw them go.
He looked like a banker to do it because of everything he’s done this season. It was in the Champions League that he showed much of his prowess, although his numbers show improvement in the Premier League as well. His minutes per goal or assist ratio this season was 309 compared to 683 last season
It was the role of an old-school striker for him in many ways – Grealish hugging the left touchline, sometimes falling outside, giving himself the width to drive, one-on-one at the back Denzel Dumfries and taking the danger to the heart of Inter defence.
He had the ability to do it. This was evident around the 40th minute when the Dutch defender down his shirt as he traveled on the outside. Grealish was brought down to the ground, though the moment cried out for more of the same. The creation of an attacking flank allowing City to circumvent the frantic pressing of an Inter side whose all-night determination deconstructed the general idea that they would be child’s play.
It was the ultimate game and stage, requiring the ultimate Grealish performance and something world class. The ability to visualize how to break through the defensive battery of Inter, to accelerate the tempo, causes surprise. This is what differentiates the good player from the great. But that was something Grealish just couldn’t manufacture. There was the occasional ball fed inside but not the pass through the defense to find Bernardo Silva in space, which opened up in the first half, and none of the combined plays needed send Erling Haaland.
Mario Balotell didn’t have much to say about BT Sport. ‘No comment’. was his response when asked which game would go. But even he could see what was needed against his former Italian side at half-time. “I think City should go one-on-one, especially Grealish and now Phil Foden because they have quality,” he said.
There was little change in the second half. The strength Dumfries brought in the right-back role required Grealish to fall inside, looking for space, although others had the presence of mind to create the space there . Manuel Akanji’s pass opened the space to create the goal. John Stones was a much more creative presence.
Grealish often recounts the aphorism one of Villa’s academy coaches, Steve Burns, once taught him: ‘Pressure is a privilege’. He couldn’t get anything out of it last night.