Pep Guardiola has insisted he is ‘more than happy’ with Jack Grealish’s performances, despite the forward failing to score or assist this season thus far.
The England international, signed for £100m in the summer of 2021, has largely failed to lived up to fans’ lofty expectations since making the move to Etihad Stadium. Last season Grealish only contributed four goals in all competitions in 38 appearances.
When asked about Grealish’s disappointing form by the press, however, Guardiola was quick to defend his player, instead lamenting the performance of other players in the midweek clash with Borussia Dortmund: “I’m more than happy with what he’s doing.
“Now it’s just a question of time to get back a little bit of his momentum that he had at the beginning of the season.
“In the last game, he was the only one up front who made aggressive runs one against one. But to make assists, he didn’t have his team-mates in the box so we left him isolated. When he went against the full-back, only Erling [Haaland] was there. [Ilkay] Gundogan was not there, Kevin [De Bruyne] was not there and they should have been. In the first half, we didn’t make any movements to help the players who had the ball and give him possibilities to make it easier.”
Guardiola, in his defence of Grealish, also insisted that Man City didn’t sign the attacker for goals and assists.
“We didn’t sign him for the incredible goals or assists. It was another reason and when he plays he does it. I want [him] to make goals and I want assists and he does, too.
“But it’s not about that, it’s about his contribution without the ball and what he can produce for the other ones and the many, many things that he’s able to do. He’s such a nice guy and in the games when he didn’t play, he is the first to help the team and in the training sessions he’s always there.”
Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury
Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.
The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.
There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.
The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.
Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.
‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.
“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.
“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”
Erik ten Hag explains decision to substitute Jadon Sancho in Omonia victory
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has confessed that he was unimpressed with the left side of his team in the first half of Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Omonia Nicosia, leading to him substituting both Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia at half-time.
United were woeful in the first half and trailed at the break after Sancho and Malacia conspired to give away the ball for the cheapest of counter-attack goals, and both were hooked at the interval.
Sancho was replaced by Marcus Rashford, who went on to bag a goal and an assist, while fellow substitute Anthony Martial also scored just moments after being introduced on the hour mark.
Asked to explain his logic behind removing Sancho while his team were losing, Ten Hag said: “It [the goal] was not what I wasn’t happy with, it was the movement with our ball.
“The width on the left side, for me, was no good first-half – the movement from behind the defending line.
“So I hoped with Luke [Shaw] and Marcus we get more effect from that and so in my opinion that happens.”
Asked what he told Rashford and the rest of the team at the break to inspire a comeback, Ten Hag told BT Sport: “More runs, we are too static, we have to make the opposition move to get behind – that is why we made two subs.
“The subs really had an impact today.”
The boss added: “I would call it stay composed. It can always happen, football is a game of mistakes. I agree with you, first 30 or 35 minutes, we played quite well, the only thing we didn’t do was score a goal.
“When you score a goal you make your life easy, we didn’t. Then we concede a goal and it was the worst 10 minutes from the game from us. After half-time, we dealt well with the setback.”
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