Tuesday, March 5, 2024
HomeFootballMICAH RICHARDS: When it was all over I couldn't stop thinking about...

MICAH RICHARDS: When it was all over I couldn’t stop thinking about Jack Grealish… he’s been through a lot in the past two years but Man City have been truly rewarded for the £100m signing

When the final whistle went and history had been written, one person came into my mind: Jack.

I was privileged to be a Manchester City player when the club changed for ever in 2008 with the Abu Dhabi takeover and Saturday’s 1-0 win over Inter Milan was the fulfilment of an ambition and dream; many people, down the years, played a part in helping fantasy become reality.

But in those few seconds, when you knew the game was over and the third leg of the Treble was complete, I couldn’t stop thinking about Jack Grealish. He’s been through a lot in the past two years, as he has tried to establish himself and I knew what he would be feeling.

Sure enough, when I got the chance to see him a short while later, he was in tears. Jack is aware some people have a perception about him but I’ve known him since he was a kid at Aston Villa and you have to believe me when I say he loves football the way a kid on a schoolyard does.

Earlier this season, though, there were difficulties. When we spoke on the phone, he would say “they are on me”, meaning he knew the levels of scrutiny on him were intensifying — people were talking about his price tag, his influence and whether he could succeed at City.

Jack Grealish has been a big part of Manchester City's treble winning season Jack Grealish has been a big part of Manchester City's treble winning season

Jack Grealish has been a big part of Manchester City’s treble winning season

The 27-year-old was visibly  emotional after City's win in the Champions League final The 27-year-old was visibly  emotional after City's win in the Champions League final

The 27-year-old was visibly  emotional after City’s win in the Champions League final

Grealish has been brilliant for Pep Guardiola's side since the World Cup, picking up 11 assists Grealish has been brilliant for Pep Guardiola's side since the World Cup, picking up 11 assists

Grealish has been brilliant for Pep Guardiola’s side since the World Cup, picking up 11 assists

Jack isn’t someone who buries his head when there is criticism. If he is playing badly, he will take what is said about him on the chin (equally, he will bounce around when praise comes his way) but he was definitely out of sorts for a period of time.

At Villa, he enjoyed being the main man but it was almost as if he felt overawed being in the City dressing room. He’d look to his right and see Kevin De Bruyne, to his left there would be Bernardo Silva or Ilkay Gundogan and it left him questioning his value to the squad.

Like Guardiola, Jack is totally obsessed with football and in Pep he has a manager that has always believed he possesses all the tools to help City achieve the extraordinary feats we’ve witnessed. 

City were certain enough of his qualities to spend £100million on him and they have been rewarded. Jack has become a key figure in this squad.

The numbers back up his significant impact since returning from Qatar. Before the World Cup, in all competitions, he had scored one goal and provided no assists. 

On this side of the World Cup, there were four goals and 11 assists but everything improved: dribbles, chances created, touches in the opposition box. 

The penny dropped. If Jack finished playing football tomorrow, how could he be called a failure? He’s won two Premier Leagues and started in both the successful FA Cup and Champions League finals, those four medals are more than the vast majority of professionals see in their careers.

I don’t think, however, his list of honours is now at an end. My feeling is that there will be another big European night, possibly next season at Wembley, because the days when you expected something to go wrong for City are over.

The win will mean a lot for him after coming under fire during an underwhelming first season The win will mean a lot for him after coming under fire during an underwhelming first season

The win will mean a lot for him after coming under fire during an underwhelming first season 

Many fans faced arduous journeys on their way to the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul Many fans faced arduous journeys on their way to the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul

Many fans faced arduous journeys on their way to the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul

After Rodri scored, my instinct was initially negative and I was braced for Inter to equalise but when Ederson kept Romelu Lukaku’s header out in the dying minutes, I knew that was it. These are the days of City’s lives and we are witnessing true greatness.

 

Saturday in Turkey will live with me forever but I cannot write about the experience without making reference to the travel chaos that many faced before and after the game. What is it with UEFA and these showpiece events?

I saw the mayhem in Paris 12 months ago, when Liverpool and Real Madrid fans were treated abysmally, and this was another nonsense. How did it take fans two-and-a-half hours to travel to a stadium in a host city?

Organisers and authorities have a duty of care to those travelling: they need to remember that without them, our game simply isn’t the same.

RELATED ARTICLES
- Advertisment -

Most Popular