Guardiola slams call for Young Boys v Man City on artificial pitch
If Pep Guardiola is right and Manchester City are battling a hangover following on from their treble-winning season, Jack Grealish has every right to be feeling its effects more than most. Not because as the poster boy of their celebrations in those heady days last June he was front right and centre of the party. Although he was.
Not because in the last few months of the season he was as good a player as Guardiola put on the pitch and on it left as much out there as anyone into the fight for silverware. Both Guardiola and Grealish accept this season has definitely been a slow burner both for club and country albeit one hampered by a dead leg against Sheffield United in the last days of August which left him unable to walk.
Yet the City boss believes the night lights of the Champions League against Young Boys tonight followed by the Manchester derby at the weekend might spark the start of the comeback. “I don’t have one doubt about Jack and his quality and what he has done for us since he arrived and especially last season,” said Guardiola.
“Some players are more hungover maybe but I don’t think so with Jack. He started the season a bit late and after when he started he had a big impact (injury) against Sheff United and then had one month off.
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“His body just needs rhythm because he’s strong, he’s not like Phil Foden or Bernardo who only need two or three training sessions. We cannot wait for him to get rhythm so he has to do training and continue to get rhythm, but he will get it.”
Grealish was particularly influential for City in their charge towards the Champions League trophy, starting every game in the knockout stages as well as the FA Cup final. In all, Guardiola started him 23 times in the Premier League as well.
This season he has started just two league games – wins over Newcastle and Sheffield United – and the Carabao Cup loss to Newcastle. Grealish, who has described his dead leg after a collision with Blades striker Ollie McBurnie as the worst the club doctor has ever seen, has added competition for a starting berth this season following the summer arrival of Jeremy Doku.
But if he gives him the chance on Wednesday night, Guardiola suggested it was a chance to regain some of his sparkle. City are aiming for the knockout stages for the 11th straight season against Young Boys.
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Victory would give them nine points from three games and make the reverse fixture at the Etihad on November 7 against the Swiss side – winners of five of the last six league titles – an opportunity to wrap up the group.
Guardiola was taking nothing for granted warning of strong and physical opponents who, despite having just one point from their first two Group G efforts away at Leipzig (losing 3-1) and Red Star Belgrade (a 2-2 draw), could be tricky.
“They are so aggressive. They don’t sit deep. Really really tall and physical, they link really well with the strikers,” said the City boss. “They attack the channels and get players in the box. It will be a tough game.”
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