Jack Grealish has said when he felt like Pep Guardiola trusted him at Manchester City after he moved there for a then-record £100 million.
The 28-year-old England regular had trouble making an impact on the Premier League champions until he got used to his new surroundings and Guardiola’s method. After that time, though, the former leader of Aston Villa played great in the final weeks of last season as City won a historic treble.
Grealish thinks that things changed after the World Cup in the middle of the season, when he and the Three Lions were sent home by France in heartbreaking fashion in the quarterfinals. When he came back, the forward with 20 caps went on to score four goals and get seven helpers in 20 games.
In the FA Cup and Champions League finals, he played for 89 and 90 minutes, respectively. Grealish also started 15 straight Premier League games before it was clear that the club would win its third straight title.
During his most recent visit on the club’s podcast, the popular playmaker talked at length about his career at the Etihad Stadium and elsewhere, including the exact moment when he knew Guardiola trusted him completely for the first time. Grealish said, “I’m a big ego player, and I want to feel loved.
“When I got back from the World Cup, my first game was against Leeds. In the first half, I should have scored at least two goals, and I thought about that during halftime. But in the second half, I helped Erling out with two goals.
Grealish said, “A week later, I was on the bench at Chelsea when Riyad Mahrez and I both came on at the same time. I set up his goal again.” After that, it seemed like I just kept getting more goals.
“I thought I was playing well, and the boss put me in big games like against Arsenal in the FA Cup, Arsenal in the Premier League, Tottenham, etc. I knew that Pep liked me, not because he told me so, but because he put me in all those big games.
“It’s fine if the coach says, ‘You’re so important to the team, Jack,’ but then doesn’t pick you. Then you’d think, “Yeah, that’s what you’re saying.” Pep didn’t say anything, but he picked me for the big games, and that said everything.”