Vital Villa forum member gmvillan gives his own thoughts on how Aston Villa can now change our playing approach and directly improve our attacking threat and options following Jack Grealish’s big money move to Manchester City.
I honestly feel we will be a more balanced team next season. The second half of last season showed a total reliance on Grealish and a significant mental weakness in the squad. By the middle of last season, opponents had sussed that by playing a man-marker (like West Ham’s two right-backs for example) you could stop Villa. The team’s drop in form didn’t coincide with the injury, it had started about a month earlier.
I think Christian Purslow’s comments were absolutely top-class. Without slagging him off directly, he made it perfectly clear that Grealish pushed for the move. And he also was bang-on in saying that we can become a more balanced team without him.
When we sold cult-hero Andy Gray in 1979 and replaced him a year later with Peter Withe, we lost Gray’s goal-scoring (although he hadn’t been especially prolific in his last year with us anyway) but brought in a centre forward who could hold the ball up far better, was more experienced and still scored goals. He was the perfect foil for the skilled Gary Shaw and thrived on the service from Morley and Swain/Bremner.
As has been mentioned by others, I was disgusted by Grealish’s actions during lockdown and felt that he didn’t deserve to retain the captaincy. The lack of action by the club was disappointing. His reaction to being substituted was also ridiculous and led others (Ross Barkley) to also repeating these antics. I stand by my statement at the time, that all was not right with the team spirit and to me, this was a contributing factor. No player is bigger than the team, yet the club allowed Grealish to become exactly that. It’s telling to me that John McGinn recently mentioned how great the spirit is in the pre-season camp.
Yes, he is a very good footballer, and perhaps the most individually-skilled we’ve ever seen, but Aston Villa are a GREAT club and will be here long after he hangs up his boots.