Jack Grealish made the move to Man City in the summer and is now longer the star he was at Aston Villa as he adapts to life with Pep Guardiola and his star-studded squad
Regular readers will know that I love Jack Grealish and that I want him to thrive at Manchester City.
I’ve told you before that I occasionally drop him a message to wish him good luck or give him a little feedback.
I’ve always felt it important for old pros to pass on wisdom to younger players.
Jack knew that, by joining Manchester City, he’d win trophies.
But I also predicted that he might be in for a battle royal with Raheem Sterling down City’s left-hand side and that there were no guarantees he would be in Pep Guardiola’s starting XI week in and week out.
Now we can add Phil Foden into that equation because the England youngster was excellent against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday. And don’t forget that Riyad Mahrez can play left or right as well.
So will Grealish become the top man at City, in his favoured role, as he was at Aston Villa, or will he simply be one of a number of players rotated by Guardiola and chucked into any number of different positions?
At Anfield on Sunday, boss Guardiola deployed him as a false nine and I actually found that a little surprising.
I couldn’t help thinking how lost he looked. He was hooked in the second half and replaced by Sterling and that followed his second-half exit at Paris Saint-Germain, where he was replaced by Foden.
I really don’t want the £100million summer signing to become merely one of seven or eight midfielders the manager can choose to do a job because then it’s an easy road towards becoming just another player.
Don’t get me wrong, this is hardly panic stations yet.
But even at this early stage of his City career I do want Grealish to go and tell the manager where he wants to play rather than having it dictated to him.
Guardiola will say: ‘Do you fancy playing false nine at times? Do you want to pick the ball up from right-back at others?’
But I don’t care whether it’s Guardiola, Sir Alex Ferguson, Bob Paisley or Brian Clough, a player always knows better than the manager where his best position is.
I’m delighted he is playing Champions League football and I’m delighted he has his first Champions League goal.
But what I don’t want him to be at the Etihad – and excuse the pun – is a Jack of all trades, master of none.
Photo by Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport via Getty Images)
The best players in the world certainly don’t play in three or four different positions.
Cristiano Ronaldo started as a winger and then drifted in to No.9 later on, Lionel Messi has always played in the same position, while Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane have always played as out-and-out strikers.
I gave the Grealish move to City the thumbs-up not on the basis that he could be better than Sterling or Mahrez but on the basis that he could be better than Kevin De Bruyne.
But right now the Belgian is the only player in that team who dictates his position to Guardiola rather than the other way round.
Grealish can get there, too, but he needs to be loved, cuddled, appreciated and trusted.
The sooner Guardiola realises that, the quicker he will start getting the absolute best out of him.