'Lot more difficult' – Grealish opens up on tough start to life at Man City after £100m transfer ahead of Villa return
JACK GREALISH has found it more difficult than expected to adapt to Manchester City.
Many feel the England star’s career at the Etihad has yet to take off after his £100 million British transfer-record move in August.
He has not featured in the champions’ last four matches and Pep Guardiola’s men have got by just fine without him, winning all of them.
But Grealish is back in the frame on Wednesday, for a return to his old club Aston Villa after shaking off a muscle injury picked up on international duty.
The playmaker insists the City faithful have yet to see the best of him, saying: “I’ve got so much more to give.
“I have found it a lot more difficult than I thought I would, adapting to a different manager and team-mates.
“At first I thought I’d have more of the ball, get more assists and goals — but it doesn’t work like that at all.
“I’ve had nowhere near as much of the ball as I used to get at Villa.”
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Yet nearly four months on from the move that floored Villa fans, he says he could not turn down the chance to join City.
Grealish, 26, told the Daily Telegraph: “You only get one shot at your career and it just flies by.
“I feel Villa are going towards Europe but I just didn’t know how long it was going to take for us.
“If I hadn’t come here, I would have regretted it forever.
“You look at most of my England team-mates, I was probably one of the last to play in the Champions League.
“Fingers crossed it’ll be a good one on Wednesday. I’ll clap all four sides of the ground no matter what. If I get booed it will be a bit awkward.”
Grealish has made 15 appearances for City, scoring twice.
The general feeling is that he has been good but not great — although his manager has no complaints about what he has seen so far.
Guardiola believes the former Villa skipper could be more selfish at times but is convinced his very best form will come with time.
City boss Guardiola said: “My opinion is he has played much better than maybe he believes. He needs time.
“Sometimes it’s the environment, a new house, private life — but not just Jack, all the players.
“You have all your life living in one place and then you come to a different place and the expectations are huge, in terms of what you have to do.
“But play bad? Absolutely not. I didn’t see one game yet where he did not play with the quality he has.
“He will come back and step by step we’ll see his best form.
“Sometimes, maybe he has to be a more aggressive guy — but the decision making, to take an extra pass, was not wrong.
“What he sees and what he has to do, is so easy for him with the quality he has.”
Guardiola suggested Grealish is not yet ready to play a full game, so is expected to be on the bench for his Villa Park return.
New Villa boss Steven Gerrard has urged the club’s fans to remember the contribution Grealish made to the club — but also treat him as the 'enemy' once the game kicks off.
Gerrard, who has won his opening two games in charge against Brighton and Crystal Palace, said: “I hope he gets a warm and positive reaction before the game.
“I think the supporters are very grateful for what Jack gave to this club.
“They see him as one of their own — coming through the academy, performing extremely well, helping them get back to the top league, by being a real influential figure who contributed extremely well.
“I don’t see anything other than a positive reaction.
“But once the game starts, he’s the enemy and we want to compete against him.”
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