Pep Guardiola has defended Jack Grealish’s form for Manchester City, following his performance against Borussia Dortmund, and blamed the forward’s teammates for his lack of assists.
A lot has been said of Grealish since City broke the British and Premier League transfer record to bring him from Aston Villa in August 2021.
The England international’s form in his first season finished with six goals and four assists in all competitions, leading to many questioning the price that City paid.
On Wednesday night he got the chance to start in the Champions League, as City hosted Dortmund, but he was taken off in the 58th minute, for Phil Foden, with the English side having just gone 1-0 down, with many fans against criticising him.
Haaland saved City with his incredible karate kick goal. Image: AlamyWith the Premier League champions going on to win the game, thanks to Erling Haaland’s incredible late winner, some might have blamed Grealish for the poor start.
However, Guardiola have shifted that blame to the rest of the squad, claiming that the other players are to blame for his lack of assists.
“I know him and I’m more than happy with what he’s doing,” Guardiola said in his pre match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game with Wolves, before going on to reveal the former Villa captain did have an injury.
“Now it’s just a question of time to get back a little bit of his momentum that he had at the beginning of the season.
Grealish with the ball vs Dortmund. Image: Alamy”We were lucky the injury was not worse. In the last game, he was the only one up front who made aggressive runs one against one. But to make assists, he didn’t have his team-mates in the box so we left him isolated.
“When he went against the full back, only Erling (Haaland) was there. (Ilkay) Gundogan was not there, Kevin (De Bruyne) was not there and they should have been. In the first half, we didn’t make any movements to help the players who had the ball and give him possibilities to make it easier.”
In five games so far this season Grealish has yet to register a goal or an assist, not exactly helping the criticism towards him, though he’s still been included in the England squad.
It was a frustrating night for Grealish. Image: AlamyGuardiola however, doubled down on his defence of his player, claiming he didn’t sign him for goals or assists, but for his general play.
“We didn’t sign him for the incredible goals or assists,” the Spaniard added, “It was another reason and when he plays he does it. I want (him) to make goals and I want assists and he does, too.
“But it’s not about that, it’s about his contribution without the ball and what he can produce for the other ones and the many, many things that he’s able to do.
“He’s such a nice guy and in the games when he didn’t play, he is the first to help the team and in the training sessions he’s always there.”
SPORTbible Stories is the brand-new podcast from the SPORT team at LADbible. The first episode features a chat with former Burnley manager Sean Dyche as he opens up on his departure from Turf Moor, what the future holds and the amazing story of the spin wheel for fines while in charge of the Clarets. You can watch the first episode here.