Jack Grealish has opened up on his tough first season at Manchester City, declaring it has been even more of a culture shock than he expected it would be.
The 26-year-old had spent his entire professional career at Aston Villa prior to his £100m move, and it appears uprooting north has had more of an impact on him not just off the pitch, but on it too.
Grealish has not been a starter for the Citizens in their biggest matches in recent weeks, but when handed the chance to impress from the bench - such as against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals last week - neither has he been able to provide match-defining contributions.
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Speaking to beIN Sports, Grealish said: “I feel like I could have done better, obviously. I’ve said that a lot of times. I feel I could have scored more, assisted more, and had more of an impact on certain games.
“But one thing I’ve realised this year is that even when players have gone for big transfer fees, or have done well and moved to a new club, I’ve watched them and thought ‘How can you struggle? It’s just football’.
“When I’ve done it myself now, I’ve realised there’s much more to it than just 90 minutes on a football pitch once or twice a week.
“There’s adapting to a new changing room, to a new manager, to a new staff, to a while new training ground, to a whole new city. For me, all I’d ever known was being at Aston Villa, and being around my family.
“It’s been different, it’s been difficult, but I knew that it wouldn’t be the same. I knew that I’d have to try and step out of my comfort zone a little bit. It’s probably been more than I thought it would.”
Despite all that, City manager Pep Guardiola is renowned for placing unique tactical demands on his players, and Grealish would not be alone if he needed time to take on board those requirements.
The likes of Riyad Mahrez, Joao Cancelo and Rodri all acclimatised themselves gradually but they are all now flourishing at the Etihad, and a second-season Grealish might look very different to the one City fans have seen this term.
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