Jack Grealish makes frank admission comparing Man City manager Pep Guardiola to Gareth Southgate
Jack Grealish says he has been playing too safe at Manchester City, and wants to return from international duty with England with some of the ‘freedom’ he is given by Gareth Southgate.
Grealish has had to learn to adapt his game in his first season at City, and said at the end of the Premier League-winning season that he felt under pressure to keep possession in the final third rather than take the risks that earned him a £100m move from Aston Villa. On Tuesday, though, he was impressive in a 20-minute cameo for England vs Germany, where he helped Southgate’s side force an equaliser.
Speaking after that game, Grealish admitted that he is allowed to play with more freedom for his country, and outlined his ambition to take that back to the Etihad under Pep Guardiola.
“I do feel like I play with a lot more freedom here [with England],” he said. “That’s what the manager asked me to do – go on and be myself and try to create and that’s what I did.
“I do think that [he plays with more freedom for England], yeah. I feel at times I’ve played a bit safe at City – but when I come here, I feel like even in training, I train really well, score goals, get assists and whatnot. When I come on the pitch… it’s hard to explain. I do feel like I play with a lot more freedom here and hopefully I can transfer that into my club football and keep on improving.”
Going into more detail about the contrasting styles between Southgate and Guardiola, Grealish moved to clarify that his ‘freedom’ comments were not aimed at either manager specifically.
He explained: “Of course, they’re two different managers, so it’s always going to be difficult. Pep is a lot more structured. You can’t complain because of what he’s done in the game, how successful he is. Whereas Gareth is more about ‘whatever you think’.
“Obviously you have a formation and a structure, but he says to me if you feel like you need to go to the other side of the pitch to get the ball then go and do that. That’s not really part of the freedom. The freedom is more in myself. Hopefully I can try transfer that to City.
“I didn’t speak to [Guardiola at the end of the season]. We had a laugh and a joke about certain stuff, that’s the game, just stuff about ourselves, and obviously I’ll speak to him next year when I get back, but I’m fine, honestly, I’m enjoying myself at City.”