Jack Grealish has been opening up about Villa’s difficult start to the season and his own struggles to bring his ‘A’ game to the Premier League so far.
By his own admission, his performances haven’t hit the heights of last term. He’s yet to score and has managed only one assist as Villa have started with only one win and three defeats in their first four matches.
“I know what I can produce and I know the level I can get to. There’s so much more to come from me. I’ve got at least another few gears to go up yet.”
He’s noticed the huge gulf in class between the Championship and the Premier League and has accepted responsibility for the error which allowed Harry Kane to get Spurs back into the game on the opening day.
But he won’t let that chastening experience hold him back, admitting he needs to do more and take more risks in matches, despite the mistake at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium.
“Our team just couldn’t keep hold of the ball so I tried to take responsibility. I did it on two other occasions, successfully, but the third time I got caught. I rarely give the ball away so I accepted it was my fault. But, in general. I haven’t taken enough risks so far, and I need to start doing it again. That’s when I’m at my best — playing off the cuff.”
Speaking about his position in the side, Grealish was quick to rule out suggestions he should play on the left (“No thanks. I hate that position!”) and sees himself more as a Number 8, transitioning defence into attack, rather than operating in the more advanced Number 10 role.
Jack’s positivity is infectious and he’s really excited for the rest of the season. His focus is on making Villa an attractive team to watch, playing front-foot football and he is sure the results will come.
The interview reveals Jack as a football nut, often the last to leave the training ground, and lapping up the football he can when he’s not playing. He watches any and every game he can, learning as much as possible about his potential opponents and he has identified players who’ll give him a battle and those he reckons he can best.
Although not surprisingly, he declines to name them. As the most-fouled player in the Championship last season (and by quite some distance), it’s probably a wise decision!
Calls for his inclusion in the recent England squad went ignored by Gareth Southgate, and I think that’s fair enough at this stage. There are others currently more deserving of a place (James Maddison, for instance) but it’s surely a matter of time before he gets the opportunity.
We all know he has room for improvement this season, which is only four games old it must be remembered. He has a lot on his young shoulders in making the step up to the Premier League while leading a new-look Aston Villa, who are trying to find their feet in an unforgiving environment.
Super Jack’s already shown that has all the attributes to succeed at this level, and with apologies to Sir Ron Saunders, to mangle the legendary words, would you bet against him?