We have entered a peculiar era within the football world now that social media has its claws in society. Social media has given football media frauds a platform to spout their views to the FIFA teen army, of which there are many – and Grealish is on their most recent agenda.
In recent weeks there has been criticism from football failures, football self-proclaimed analysts and experts, and HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED – and no, not Lord Voldemort, though one could argue that he is the lesser evil.
These football media personalities have mastered the art of clutching onto ideas they know are popular on social media to get the interactions, so that they themselves become popular.
The reality is that their football knowledge lacks substance, insight, and validity. Now I am no expert, but here I aim to debunk the recent criticism of Grealish by looking at more than stats and FIFA ratings.
Football to many fans is an art. Watching a well-coached team with highly skilled athletes is like watching an artist paint, or a musician compose. It is more than good results, high stats, trophies won and FIFA ratings.
What makes a great footballer is how someone can incorporate themselves into a team, and do right by their teammates, even if that means seeing their personal stats drop.
How someone adapts to a new style of play, and not giving up when it doesn’t come naturally because they have spent their whole youth and career learning another way.
How someone’s character not only shines through on the pitch, but in the dressing room and around the club.
The effort and hard work they put in, despite not being the best in a team or a dead certain starter as they may have been before. And we all know that no one is guaranteed a start under Pep Guardiola.
A mentality that recognises that no one DESERVES to win anything, even the best teams in the world don’t DESERVE to win – it’s relentlessness, dedication, and determination.
How many times have we seen players with great skill, but poor attitudes drop off? How many times have we seen players who think they deserve to win face utter disbelief when things don’t go their way?
The above describes positive traits that Grealish has brought since becoming a blue. But what about his performances?
I’m going to get his stats out of the way first before the FIFA, stat loving, analyst pretenders come for my head.
Let’s start with the criticism of him for being a 100m benchwarmer during the 21/22 title winning season. REALITY: he wasn’t in the squad for eight games across all competitions (58 games) due to various “niggles”.
There were 11 games in which he remained on the bench. That’s 39 games (32 starts) out of 58 he was involved in. That’s more games than some clubs even play. MYTH DEBUNKED – MIC DROP!
Grealish bagged six goals and four assists across all competitions last season. This is by no means record breaking. However, as evidenced by some of City’s most important players, it can take some time to adapt to Pep’s philosophy.
This can also be evidenced through statements from current and past City stars that have worked with our favourite baldy.
But let’s compare this to his previous season at Villa where he scored six goals and bagged 12 assists. Equal on the goal front, so he’s never been a prolific goal scorer.
Nevertheless, we can in fact see changes in his game with the type of goals scored for City and the positions he is now taking up within the box. He is adapting as evidenced by the TYPE of goals scored in comparison to previous seasons.
Grealish had eight more assists in the 20/21 season at Villa than he did last season at City. Possible reasons: playing on the wing in a less creative or free role than he did at Villa, no striker to link up with or cross to, not being the primary source of creation.
In his 19/20 season he scored 8 goals and 6 assists. Are his goal contributions massively off from his previous form? Or does he bring much more than simple statistics to a game? Pep knew what he was getting.
Playing on the wing during a season in a new city, at a new club, playing under massive criticism and expectation, a new philosophy, a new style with no hefty lump striker? Not bad our kid.
So that’s my minor “analyses” of his stats – basically I just googled it.
What of the overall performances from Grealish, however? This is something that is rarely taken into consideration when it comes to City players, likely because of our habit of breaking statistical records.
He is no longer a “big fish in a small pond”, he is an important player in a well-drilled, highly disciplined, star-studded squad. PAUSE: mum has made me pie and mash.
Anyway, whilst Grealish may not control the rhythm of our games in the same way as Gundogan or De Bruyne. He does contribute to control and a measured tempo.
City’s style relies heavily on possession and dominance, though there are times that the opposition test this – in comes a solid CDM performance.
But there’s more to it than the CDM’s control; Grealish has the technical ability to cause problems for the opposition and slow the game down. This enables the blues to regain control of the rhythm.
Calves out also draws players to him, important when teams defend deeply, this creates space for the other attackers to get in and around the box, and consequently, leading to goal scoring opportunities. A role just as important as creating the actual goals – no space, no goal.
His close ball control, low centre of gravity and passing range, allows him to be a force in attack. However, these qualities have also proven crucial in his defensive duties when teams are pressing high up the pitch, allowing us to either play out with ease and create counter attacking opportunities, or winning the ball and control back for City through freekicks.
All in all, the qualities that he brings to City are both unique and fitting with the way that Pep sets up his side.
Is there room for further development? Absolutely. And who better to do that with than Pep and City? It is Pep’s own belief that things can always be better.
The fact of the matter is that his form is hardly different from that at Villa where he was the DB’s and loved by all.
My conclusion is that this criticism comes from playing for the best team in England. His role at City is different. Therefore, his output is slightly lower. But his performances prove that stats are not everything.
THE END. Debunked with a MIC HELICOPTER!