England playmaker Jack Grealish has ridiculed criticism of Graeme Souness over his performance since joining Manchester City.
It’s been just over a year since the former Aston Villa captain transferred £100m to the Etihad Stadium.
Grealish says pressure and increased scrutiny is “integral” to representing City and England, with that mindset perhaps explaining why he has been able to take Souness’s latest taunts in his stride.
This was said by the former Liverpool coach and captain this week The 27-year-old is ‘not a great player’ He should have improved even more since joining City, as he thought he would think faster and move the ball faster.
“I don’t know what his problem is with me,” Grealish said with a laugh. “He always says things about me! But I try not to read too much of it.
“It’s hard to know when he’s on talkSPORT or Sky Sports, and everywhere around the training ground sometimes.
“Listen, he was obviously a great player and won a lot but I know he has a lot of things… I don’t know what he is with what he says about me or what the problem is he has. I know my own ability.
“I know before he used to say a lot of things about not moving the ball faster but when I play for a manager like Pep Guardiola and he asks me to keep the ball as long as I can and have balls to take everywhere, that’s what I’m going to try to do.
“Obviously I’ll always have people, if I don’t play well (criticize). Listen, I know inside, I always watch my games and things like that and I’m very critical of myself.
“I know there are games, especially in the second half of last season, where I wasn’t at my best at all.
“Unfortunately, I’m back in pre-season, I’m back in shape as I had a strong pre-season and then got injured in the second game.
“But from now on I will just try to lower my head and try to get back in shape because I know I’m not at 100 percent yet. I think I’ve only played 90 minutes this season.
“But, yeah, I think I’ll always have people behind me but I just have to try and go and perform.”
Grealish seems to be taking it all in stride, admitting that the scrutiny “may affect my family more than it does me” after learning how to handle it over the years.
“It would be more if someone like my mum or dad said it, I would listen a lot,” he said ahead of England’s Nations League game in Italy on Friday.
“But, yeah, sometimes when people say it — whether it’s trolls on Twitter or Instagram or things like that — it doesn’t bother me at all.
“I think that’s just an integral part of what we play for the national team and we play for big clubs in England.
“I don’t think I’m the only one, I think there are a few of them. I think we just have to learn to deal with that.”
“Obviously over time I have learned to deal with it.
“When I signed for Man City and the price and the things that come with it, I knew it wouldn’t be all laughable, unless I started the way Erling Haaland did. I think that’s the only way I won’t be caned!”
“Obviously I wouldn’t sit here and say ‘nothing ever affects me’ because it happens sometimes. I’m a 27-year-old so I had to learn how to deal with that.”
Grealish was in the spotlight long before he became a star player due to some off-field behavior earlier in his career.
The attacking midfielder’s professionalism came into question again over the summer after his celebrations in the City title parade and the subsequent holiday.
Grealish thinks criticism is unfair but knows he has to work to get his best at City and England.
“I’m just a normal kid, you know?” He said. “I feel like I was doing what a lot of other footballers do, but sometimes I think I get more attention when I’m on vacation in Ibiza or Vegas or something.
“Then I would put pictures of me in action. I don’t know if a lot of people have talked about it.
“I tried to come back as healthy as possible and I felt like I did. I’ve seen the manager say that many times about me.
“I know what I like and how professional I really am and hopefully I can get my performance back to where I was, when I’m playing at my best.
“I know how really good I am when I’m at my best, so I hope I can get that back and get back in shape ASAP.”