Tactical Analysis: How bad has Jack Grealish been at Man City since his 100M Euro transfer from Aston Villa?
Amidst a lot of critics on Jack Grealish not contributing enough to goals and or assisting in goal scoring, BraggsSports has decided to tactically look into the matter to sort out why with regards to the teams tactics
The Jack Grealish signing for Man City was always going to cause significant backlash on the player because he’s a £100m asset who doesn’t specialize at scoring or assisting goals. It’s like signing David Silva for £100m. He’s a great player but not necessarily output orientated.
Now of course it’s not that simple because David Silva’s output was better than Grealish’s and Grealish still has to improve at producing output, but it’s still really clear that Grealish is a top, top player and difference maker who’s suited perfectly to Man City’s style.
It’s crucial to note that Pep Guardiola’s teams attack with 5 forwards and not 3 like Liverpool, Chelsea or Spurs. When they sustain attacks, which they’re the best in the world at, they have two wingers on each touchline, two #10’s comfortable between the lines, and Haaland up front.
The whole premise of their game plan is to dominate the ball and create through: combination play to create space for players in 1v1’s, a yard for someone like KDB to create, whatever. Then they counterpress off the back of that as they’re right on top of the opposition who are deep.
So, although Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne contribute to most goals and assists (because they’re the best players), the burden of goal responsibility isn’t solely on them. If they don’t contribute to a goal, there’s still 3 others forwards (and players behind that) who can. There’s 5 attackers.
Before Haaland came, KDB was their top league scorer with 15 goals and the season before it was Gundogan with 13. The team scored the most goals in the league each year by far though, and this has always been the case, even if Haaland has changed that due to individual prowess.
The point is Guardiola didn’t sign Jack Grealish for goals and assists alone. They are of course required but what makes Jack Grealish so good is his combination play, his ability to interchange with others to a top standard whilst maintaining positional discipline and technical security.
Jack Grealish can also beat his man in 1v1’s on either side and although he doesn’t specialize at it he can still do it. He’s also an abnormally good ball carrier and outlet in transition for a ‘to feet’ player. All of these qualities are incredibly desirable for Pep and City’s style.
So, even though Jack Grealish isn’t, has never been, and never will be a massive output contributor, he still fits the system to a top standard. The problem is £100m almost demands output and he’s also English so the media scrutiny is through the roof.
I would also argue that with the introduction of Erling Haaland it could become even more difficult for Grealish to produce output. Guardiola has inverted both fullbacks this season to both wide players constantly receive in build-up type situations in settled attacks as opposed to high.
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So, not only is the output responsibility on Jack Grealish not that big, but it has diminished even further this season. It’s also important to remember that his competition is Phil Foden, someone who has speed in behind and the ability to attack space that Jack Grealish doesn’t have.
That also makes it difficult to reliably start games which magnifies his lack of output even more. It’s a truly difficult situation for Grealish but what he is is a top player, and that’s undeniable, but the price tag, nationality and system/role he plays in makes it hard for him.
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