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Jack Grealish defends Man City boss Pep Guardiola and England manager Gareth Southgate

As every touch of Jack Grealish’s is analysed forensically these days, there is an increasing trend that is seeing Pep Guardiola receive some criticism for his tactical shackling of the England playmaker

Before his £100m transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City, Grealish was a free-roaming, dangerous number ten, who was the nation’s favourite at Euro 2020 and earned the number seven shirt for England in that tournament. After the move, he’s been ineffective, struggling to impact games, and restricted to the left wing. At least, that’s what the critics are saying.

As part of that criticism, Guardiola has been given some negative attention for keeping Grealish limited to the left, and not allowing him to play the free role he did at Villa. However, Grealish himself says it’s only natural that he is given a different role at City given the contrasts between the squad at the Etihad and his former teammates at Villa Park.

“It’s completely different to the way I was at Villa. At Villa I was more free, at City it’s more structured,” he said. “I have a great relationship with the manager, I’ve said in so many interviews that I’ve never seen anything like the way he thinks and looks at football – he’s just obsessed with it. I think you can tell why and see why.

“I have a good relationship with him. I know people are saying I might be playing a bit different to the way I used to. But I think that comes with the players I’m playing with as well. I’ve played with so many top players, and it was obviously going to change my game a little bit. I’m never going to be the exact same player that I was because I’m playing for a different club with a different team and a different manager. Hopefully now this is the start of my season and I can just kick on from here.”

Grealish also defended England manager Gareth Southgate from criticism he received after the Three Lions’ poor form in the June internationals that could see them relegated in the Nations League

However, Grealish believes Southgate should have more credit in the bank, and said the reaction to the England boss was uncalled for.

“I think it was harsh,” he said. “We reached the final last year and then the Hungary game [1-0 defeat] at the start of the last camp, I think before that the last time we’d lost a game over 90 minutes was maybe Belgium in November 2020 or something.

“So, I think it is very harsh, especially the World Cup and the Euros of how well the team done and the manager himself. I thought it was obviously harsh but sometimes that’s what you get if you’re English. I’ve certainly had my fair share!”

It’s clear Grealish enjoys a different role for England than he does at City, although he’s not taking any potential World Cup starting spot for granted as he insisted he would be happy to play whatever role is asked of him if he is selected for Qatar in November.

He said: “I’d love to be [starting] but then again I know what an impact I can bring from the bench. I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘that’s what I am – someone who just comes on’. I started one game in the Euros and got an assist, which I was over the moon about.

“The manager’s the manager and if him and his staff decide to play me, I’ll give my all and also if I’m on the bench, I’m ready to come on as an impact sub.”

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