What is the future of Grealish at City?
There were reports today morning that Grealish has asked his agent to start looking for a new club(https://www.football365.com/news/grealish-asks-agent-find-him-new-club-man-city). The report further goes onto say that Grealish does not expect to stay at the club beyond 2023. I know that articles like these will keep on springing up everywhere. But, the truth is that the doubts still keep lingering in my mind about the sustainability of Jack Grealish on the left wing position.
Left wing might become too competitive for Jack
It is just a matter of time that Mahrez returns to form or Cole Palmer makes the right wing his own. Then, Foden will have to be shifted onto the left. This will mean that Grealish will be suddenly left without a starting place in the team. All of this could occur really fast and it would mean that Jack will be left fighting for a position on the wing that is not his strength.
We have seen that Jack is a confidence player and the inability to retain his position back might actually dent his confidence to a greater extent than we can even imagine. I hope that Pep will manage Grealish in a different way compared to Sterling and Jesus. Pep used to bench Sterling for a few matches if he was out of form. This always sparked Sterling and got the best out of him whenever he returned to the starting lineup. Now, i don’t think the same trick will work with Jack Grealish. Grealish seems to be similar to John Stones in terms of personality. The more you keep him out of the team, the more he suffers from self doubt.
What is the strength of Jack?
I think this is the first question we need to answer before criticizing or judging Grealish. We need to observe where he is happiest on the pitch. Where does Jack feel he can be himself? This is the question that Pep needs to think about in this international break. When you look at the pre-season matches and even the Wolves match closely, you will start to figure out the answer.
In the recent match against Wolves, he was given a little spell in the midfield for 10-15 minutes. Jack was suddenly running the show and getting us up the field out of Wolves press. He looked extremely happy playing in that central midfield role, where he could dictate the play and take on the responsibility. So, the answer to the above question is not at all difficult. But, the difficult part is implementing the solution.
How do you play Jack in the midfield?
This is an almost an impossible question to answer. Even if Pep Guardiola was writing this article, he would struggle to get anywhere near the end of this solution. Some of the world’s best player’s practice their trade in the midfield for City. I mean, it’s not just 2, but 3 players that Jack has to compete with for the 2 midfield spots available.
The shining light here is that Pep has not faced this problem for the first time. When he arrived at City in 2016, he had David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne competing for only one midfield spot. So, Pep tweaked his formation and accommodated 2 midfield positions with only one holding midfielder. That was something very new at that time. So, it is not beyond the realms of Pep to tweak the formation and give a spot to Grealish in the midfield.
Whatever solution Pep comes up with, it should make sure that Grealish must be given a spot in the midfield and the overall balance of the team must not be effected. The system of Pep is always designed to maximize the strengths of the player and Pep will surely be thinking about getting the very best out of Grealish in this International break