Jack Grealish played an integral role in Man City’s historic Treble-winning season but England’s latest poster boy is under pressure… after a summer of partying, how does he force his way back into their XI ahead of a crucial Manchester derby?
- The Man City winger has played 10 matches so far this season, scoring one goal
- Belgian wonderkid Doku’s arrival has put pressure on the former Villa attacker
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
On a rain-soaked night towards the middle of June last year, the footballing world marvelled at one of the greatest treble-winning teams of all time.
Manchester City had finally done it and, largely, so did Jack Grealish. The former Aston Villa starlet danced his way through the night half-dressed and half-drinking from a bottle of vodka on top of a bus parade after starting and winning the Champions League final.
He had lived up to an ominously hefty price tag and proved to critics he belonged on football’s highest stage.
Fast forward 16 months later, however, how is it that England’s enigma is having the same questions asked about him as when he was struggling to find his feet at City?
Is it unwarranted? Unfair? Or has the nation’s ‘party boy’ lost his place in the starting line-up at City and his form after a summer of clubbing?
The 28-year-old has had his form questioned following a scintillating end to last season
Grealish has one assist after appearing in five league games, coming off the bench three times
England’s enigma has been dubbed a ‘party boy’ following his treble-winning antics last year
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Before we go any further, it must be pointed out that Grealish has been sidelined for large portions of the season with a thigh injury.
The 28-year-old has made only five appearances so far in the Premier League, with three of those coming off the bench, and it is very easy to forget that it takes time for player to reach the same levels after taking time off the pitch.
But what’s arguably more concerning for the £100million man is the arrival of Belgian wonderkid Jeremy Doku.
At just 21 years of age, the pacy winger has started five games in the league so far this season after the club bought him from Rennes for £55million.
He has two goals and two assists in all competitions – compared to Grealish’s one assist – and has faced no worrying questions about his price tag, playing style or whether he regrets his move.
Highlighted by Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton, there is a serious concern over Jack’s starting position in the team.
Couple this with the treatment of a player like Kalvin Phillips who for all intents and purposes should have been a raving success at City when he made his move from Leeds United, it’s not insane to suggest that something similar could happen to Grealish.
If Guardiola feels as though a player is no longer fitting his team and the way he wants to play, he has proven that he is ruthless.
Belgian wonderkid Jeremy Doku has two goals and two assists so far in all competitions
The famous three-day bender that Jack went on after his side completed the treble
The party started with beers after City beat Inter Milan 1-0 in the Champions League final
But while there may be a justified concern for Grealish – this is very, very early in the season.
For context, in November 2022 there were reports that the 28-year-old was ‘devastated’ with his status at the club and he was going to be sold.
Then, just six months later he was heralded for his role in helping City to secure the first two legs of the treble in winning the league and starting the FA Cup final against Man United.
Any attempt to reconcile the differences between that treble-winning side towards the end of last season to City now must account for an obvious drop-off.
As probably all of City’s players feel now, they are not playing at that same level.
And at a club where every position is stacked with two to three world-beaters, a player is going to have ebbs and flows and be out of the starting line-up for a good period of time while others flourish.
Having come through a rough spell at the start of his Man City career, Grealish himself will know it’s far too soon to be questioning his form.
When important games run thick and fast and injuries hit, Grealish will be called upon to deliver as he did at the end of City’s magical run last year.
A photo shared by the England player before pre-season from his ‘helluva summer’ break
Declan Rice (left) and Mason Mount (right), joined Grealish during a summer of partying
Grealish shared this image to his Instagram of him with DJ Sonny Fodera ‘outside the pitch’
And in terms of his ‘party boy’ image, Jack delivered a refreshingly honest answer in June earlier this year at an England press conference when asked what he made of Gareth Southgate’s comments that there is a ‘line’.
‘I would never sit here and lie to you and say “Yeah, I don’t drink and I don’t party” because I do,’ he said.
‘But then there’s so many people that will come here and say to you “I don’t do this, I don’t do that” when they do.
’I’m just truthful because when you see me doing anything, you’d be like: “Oh, hold on. He said a few weeks ago in an interview that he didn’t do that”.
‘I knew what I was doing, that’s just the way I am, I’m like that when I party usually. Actually, I’m not like that usually but we’ve won the Treble and it’s something that will never happen again.
’So I went and enjoyed myself and I wasn’t the only one. I’d had the most successful season of my life.’
IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!
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