What Jack Grealish’s disappointing England outing tells us about his Man City future

What Jack Grealish's disappointing England outing tells us about his Man City future


The score was 1-1, England having come from behind to restore parity after Roland Sallai’s penalty for Hungary.

Jack Grealish and Phil Foden combined before the former was scythed down. Foden’s in-swinging delivery deflected off Declan Rice’s back towards the far post, where John Stones powered home.

It meant three out of Manchester City’s five participating Englishman in the World Cupqualifier positively impacted a tentative, slow 45 minutes from Gareth Southgate’s side.

Sixty-two minutes played, with England chasing the game, a change is made. Bukayo Saka on for Grealish. It has become an unfortunately familiar feeling of late for City’s record signing.

At the weekend, Grealish was introduced to inject life into a rotated England side as they looked to build on a two-goal lead against Andorra. He duly scored his maiden international goal as Southgate’s men ran out 5-0 winners.

But the Hungary game followed a trend. At the Parc des Princes, he was brought off after 68 minutes of a 2-0 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain and replaced by Foden. After 66 minutes, Raheem Sterling was his replacement before either of City’s goals in the 2-2 draw at Liverpool.

There is a different trend for Grealish compared to previous incomings, like Riyad Mahrez, who was forced to bide his time at the start of his Manchester City career.

In the build-up to England’s midweek equaliser, the former Aston Villa hero picked up the ball and swept across the pitch before playing a one-two with Foden and being hacked down on the far side.

Foden crosses, England score.

At half-time, the impetus shown by the duo was praised by the ITV pundits.

Man City star Jack Grealish was taken off for England vs Hungary.

“We’ve needed to be brave, Jack Grealish has had to be brave on the ball and by progressing the ball,” former Arsenal striker Ian Wright said.

“We have to be braver. Take them out of the shape, him [Grealish] and Foden we get a nice one-two, then off the back of this we get a free-kick because Jack Grealish is getting on the ball and trying to make things happen.”

Setting up for the second half, Foden continued in the role where he flourished in the trouncing of Andorra. The City youth product and Grealish looked set to steer Southgate’s side to victory.

But then there was frustration, as Grealish’s number appeared on the board and he was left to slump disconsolately on the bench.

Following his departure, England’s attacking threat was clearly diminished.

“We were asking the same question [why Grealish came off], he was the one creating chances, getting on the ball, drawing fouls which led to the goal,” said Eni Aluko, who was working alongside Wright.

“Hungary were set up so well, England have to break that down with their attacking players.”

In an overall off England performance, Grealish was one of the focal points and a player they often looked to depend upon for an attacking spark.

Jack Grealish celebrates after scoring his first England goal.

That leads us back to a question that has dominated the past couple of weeks: can he cope with a star-studded team at City and shine alongside the likes of Foden and Kevin de Bruyne? It is, after all, a very different scenario to being the undisputed main man at Aston Villa.

Going off Tuesday’s performance, the answer is an emphatic “yes”. Irrespective of the poor overall team showing, Grealish still stood out and earned praise for his inventive and industrious contributions.

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He continued to be influential in a team featuring Raheem Sterling, Foden, Stones and Kyle Walker. Prior to his slightly below-standard performances against PSG and Liverpool, Grealish dazzled amid a Pep Guardiola masterclass that downed Chelsea.

‘Super Jack’ is ultimately finding his feet but his midweek outing showed there should be no doubt he can shine among an ensemble of talented attackers.

Guardiola will continue to harness the ferocious playmaking capabilities that warranted his price tag. He will be shoulder-to-shoulder with De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Foden to wreak havoc within a creative collective that is the envy of world football.

Grealish certainly will not be the odd-man out for club or country.

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