Grealish: City’s togetherness is unbelievable – few have done what we have

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Grealish: City’s togetherness is unbelievable – few have done what we have

The room falls silent as Jack Grealish walks in, but he immediately warms it.

“Hello, mate!” he says, in his chirpy, unmistakable Brummie twang.

He has been filming for PUMA’s new ‘Forever.Faster.’ campaign but there has been no obvious drop in energy and his trademark hairstyle somehow remains in pristine condition.

In hindsight, his demeanour was telling. His interview with Sky Sports in Manchester took place shortly before his return to action following a six-week spell on the sidelines with a groin injury.

Just a matter of days before, Man City confirmed his return to training; four days afterwards, on March 31 in the 0-0 draw with Arsenal, he made his first Premier League appearance since February 10.

Image: The 28-year-old has made 35 appearances in all competitions for Man City so far this term

On Instagram, he had posted photos of his road to recovery. “Lonely month working my way back,” read the caption.

“When I’m injured, I start watching clips of myself and just remember how many good moments I have had in football. It brings back my love for football,” Grealish says.

“There’s nothing that beats it. It’s what I’m used to and it’s what I’ve done my whole life, so when I’m stuck indoors while the team are out training for a month or six weeks, it is difficult at times.

“Being injured certainly gave me that extra motivation to come back and just play well again and try and succeed with City. I’m over the moon to be back and hopefully, I can have a strong end to the season.”

The tagline for PUMA’s new campaign is ‘See The Game Like We Do’. In recent years, social media and fly-on-the-wall documentaries have gone some way to satisfying the hunger of football fans globally to get a glimpse into the world of elite players and what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

That hunger is undying. The more content that is out there, the more that is craved.

So how does Jack Grealish see the game?

“I see it in a positive way, being an attacking player and loving football the way that I do,” he continues.

“My game is all about creativity and taking risks on the ball, whether that be dribbling at players or assisting or scoring goals.

“I’m more of an off-the-cuff type of player. I just go with the flow and whatever happens in that moment, I just react to it in that moment.

“I like to watch clips of myself before games, but not to visualise moments, more so just to bring back good memories and fill myself with a little bit of confidence.

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Highlights from the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Manchester City.

“We get given iPads before games to look at the opposition defender we’re coming up against, so I know if he’s left or right-footed, how he likes to play and what his strengths and weaknesses are. Apart from that, I wouldn’t say I visualise situations.”

Mentality is a buzzword in football these days, and with Pep Guardiola – one of the game’s great thinkers – as his manager, Grealish knows the value of a strong mindset on the pitch.

It is, no doubt, what has helped him re-establish a place in City’s starting line-up, with the 28-year-old having played the full 90 minutes in two emphatic wins over former club Aston Villa and Crystal Palace earlier this month.

Kevin De Bruyne’s two sublime finishes took the headlines in the latter, but Grealish played a starring role, with a key role in all four of City’s goals in the 4-2 win at Selhurst Park.

“To be mentally strong is one of the most important things that you need to be. It’s one of the main things of playing for a big club like City,” he says.

“It’s all good taking the ball when it’s 3-0 or 4-0, but it’s those moments when it’s 0-0 and you’re playing at an away ground – whether that’s Anfield or somewhere where the fans are on you – taking the ball and wanting the ball in those situations.

“One thing that’s quite big at City and that we talk about a lot is just concentrating on the next game. All you can really do is concentrate on the next game.”

He is aware of maintaining that presence of mind once he has crossed the touchline and returned home, too.

“In this day and age, you can have a bad game and it can be all over social media or the newspapers. You look at the top players over the years, Messi, Ronaldo, that is one thing they had more than anyone else in the world.

“I’ve had times where I’ve been going through a difficult patch, and I play with players now at City and for England that have had a lot of stick over the years and I know they don’t read anything anymore.

“Even now I don’t have Twitter because you see so much stuff on there you don’t need to see written about yourself. When you see or hear a lot of it, it can start creeping into your mind.”

As ever, things are going well for City on two fronts in the final month of the season.

With four Premier League games left, they find themselves in a three-way title race with Arsenal and Liverpool, while a second straight Manchester derby in the FA Cup final awaits on May 25.

“I’ve said in a lot of interviews that, for me, the team I’m in now – and especially last year – it’s just unbelievable, the togetherness we have. Over the years, there have been so many top teams in the Premier League that haven’t done what we’ve done.

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“Even City’s team in 2018/19, with David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne and Man United’s team in 2008/09, with Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez – none of these teams won the treble.

“That says something about our team because you can have all of the talent in the world, but you need to have the other side of it as well, like that togetherness of the pitch. That’s something we had so much of and we’ve got it this season as well.

“With the experience we have and the quality we have, we don’t really doubt ourselves.

“I feel like everyone knows how hard it is to win a treble. We did it last year and it was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in football, especially having played such a big part in it.

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‘Go and make history’ | Kyle Walker’s pre-match team talk sparked Man City’s rout against Brighton in April

“I just want to finish the season strongly, try and win every competition we’re in at the moment.”

Grealish has high hopes for the final months of the season – and who can blame him? His return could hardly have been timed any better.

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