Jack Grealish admits adapting to Manchester City’s style of play has been “much more difficult” than he imagined it would be.
Having joined City for a Premier League record £100million fee in 2021, Grealish has largely struggled to replicate the displays he produced for Aston Villa, though he made a decisive impact in Thursday’s 1-0 win at Chelsea.
Grealish’s fine ball across the six-yard box teed up Riyad Mahrez for City’s winner just three minutes and 43 seconds after the pair were introduced as second-half substitutes.
That represented Grealish’s third assist in his last three Premier League games – the same amount as he managed in his first 34 league appearances for City, and the England international acknowledges he struggled on his arrival at the Etihad Stadium.
“When I came here, I’ll be honest with you, it was so much more difficult than I thought,” Grealish told Sky Sports.
“In my head I thought I was going to the team sitting top of the league and I was going to get so many goals and assists and obviously it isn’t the case.
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) January 5, 2023
“A lot of teams tend to sit in against us and that wasn’t the case at Villa.
“[Former Villa boss] Dean Smith would tell me to go and find the weak link in the defence, whether that was on the right, the middle or whether I wanted to hug the touchline, and at Villa, I always had an overlapping full-back.
“I came to City, having been at Villa my whole life, and I’ve never had to change [before]. I’ve always been used to that. I didn’t realise how hard it is to adapt to a different team and manager.”
City’s victory at Stamford Bridge was their fourth in a row against Chelsea in all competitions, and Grealish believes the Blues’ willingness to attack the champions played into their hands.
“We’ve had games this season – against Everton and Brentford recently for example – where they’ve had a back five and they’ve sat in against us,” Grealish said.
“Against a back four today it just felt so much more open, and we were desperate to come on.”
9 – Since he joined Man City in 2018, Riyad Mahrez has scored more Premier League goals as a substitute than any other player (9). He scored his goal, assisted by Jack Grealish, just 3 minutes and 43 seconds after both players had been subbed on. Impact. pic.twitter.com/RL80MCKI8W
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 5, 2023
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