Manchester City News: Yesterday afternoon at the London Stadium, Jack Grealish attempted to play a one-two with Erling Haaland but the return pass failed ten seconds into the second half.
It was a good illustration of the kind of intention the England international should have had. It was only a momentary glimpse of the directness that had made him flash so brightly at Aston Villa.
It was all too frequently simple to overlook the presence of the man to his left as most eyes shifted to the new attacking focal point for Manchester City. If Grealish stoked the doubts, Haaland was completely convinced in his Premier League debut.
Forget that Grealish was almost twice as expensive as Haaland, as such comparisons seem pointless in the age of club owners with boundless coffers. The only comparison that can be made is influence on the field, and the new player has already had a bigger one thanks to yesterday’s outstanding performance.
Manchester City News: Pressure on Grealish
The lone significant goal scored by Grealish for City last season came in East London when they rallied from two goals behind to tie in April on route to the title. Grealish has yet to produce a game-winning moment for City.
In actuality, the 26-year-participation old’s in the festivities was his most notable contribution since joining the club. But amid the celebration, it’s crucial to keep in mind that moment of openness where he admitted to being intimidated by playing for Guardiola.
Apart from that dribble and a good spin on Vladimir Coufal in the final minutes of the first half, there wasn’t much else to report. Even the distribution, though, lacked flavor—too many of his throws were safe and sideways.
He hugged the touchline as City’s full-backs pushed high and tucked in to suffocate their opponents. He frequently served as a scapegoat but infrequently entered the fray himself.
Guardiola praised City’s overall performance after the game. It is admirable how easily they neutralized a mediocre West Ham. However, it is also reasonable to expect more from Grealish than fake runs and lateral passes.
Additional Opportunities for Grealish
Additional opportunities will be available before the World Cup thanks to Raheem Sterling moving to Chelsea and Gabriel Jesus moving to Arsenal. Recently, Guardiola has been pounding the small-squad drum. Grealish should also benefit from a good pre-season to soak up the head coach’s preferred techniques.
The hint of frailty that was visible during May’s championship celebrations may be more telling of his mental state than the customary outer layer of assurance, the low socks, and the fancy haircut that have frequently looked like an invitation for defenders to kick out.
There won’t be many surprises if Grealish starts to shine once the season’s pace ramps up, but if it doesn’t happen for him at City now, it might never.