GRAEME SOUNESS: No threat, no end-product and no goals… with Jeremy Doku now Man City’s go-to player, Jack Grealish needs to have a close look at himself

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Jack Grealish is struggling for form and fluency at Manchester City this season

New £55m signing Jeremy Doku has shone and is now Pep Guardiola’s go-to man

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Manchester United in a mess – they have a collapse in them – It’s All Kicking Off

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Jack Grealish could not have played in any of the teams I did at Liverpool. The way he plays, it would not have been accepted.

 

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He takes too many touches and does not see the picture early enough – he slows the team down. Put it this way, I can understand why Pep Guardiola is picking Jeremy Doku ahead of him for Manchester City.

 

Grealish has become very predictable. He takes his full-back down the line before checking inside and playing it square. There is no threat, no end-product. He has not scored in his last 30 appearances for club and country and has only two assists this season, so there you go. He’s a forward!

 

Ask 10 full-backs if they’d rather play against Doku or Grealish, and I think it would be Grealish every time. Defenders don’t like pace and players who are direct. The way it is today, you dangle a leg and that’s a penalty. Grealish isn’t showing any intent to get by defenders.

 

He is, for me, at a crossroads in his City career. Doku is 21 years old and is only going to improve. Jack is 28. He needs to have a close look at himself. He should be in his pomp. Between 26 and 30 you have the knowledge, you’re physically and mentally stronger. He will not be getting any better. This should be his time.

 

Jack Grealish is struggling for form at Man City this season and is lacking end product

 

Jeremy Doku – who joined for £55m – has dazzled and is currently Pep Guardiola’s go-to man

 

Graeme Souness explains why Grealish needs to up his game to get back in the City team

 

So, if I was him, I would be very concerned. I’d be sitting in front of the manager and asking him, ‘How do you see it for me? I’ve won all these trophies with you but the new guy is the go-to player in my position.’

 

With the Euros coming up, and World Cup beyond that, he cannot afford to be sitting on the bench as a bit-part player. Only he can decide if he’s happy to be that. It’s not something I would have tolerated. I wanted to start every game and I did, if I was fit.

 

But my criticism of Grealish has always been the same, and it comes back to the time he spends on the ball. I thought he was the same at Aston Villa, by the way. I don’t go along with the idea that Guardiola has coached the individuality out of him. He plays the same for England, too.

 

My football education was all about taking as few touches as you possibly could and being accurate with your passing. What that basically meant was, if you’re taking all those touches, you’re not seeing things as quickly as a top player does.

 

The whole game is based on getting the ball to the guys who score the goals as quickly and as accurately as possible. They are the people in the team who matter most, because they put the ball in the net. They need time and space. The longer you spend on the ball, the more it denies them that. I still believe my education was right then, is right today and will be right in 100 years’ time.

 

No coach would tell a player to linger on the ball like Grealish does, and that is why he’s found himself out of the team. They paid £55m for Doku, a little over half of the £100m they paid for Grealish. That shows you the premium there is on Premier League players. There are no bargains to be had in England, they are overvalued.

 

And if you’re City, spending £100m, it’s not for a squad player. It’s for someone who gets in the strongest XI and makes a difference in every game they play. Jack is not that, and I’m not sure he ever will be.

 

With the Euros coming up, Grealish cannot afford to be sitting on the bench as a bit-part player

Direct and pacey Doku, 21, is only going to improve whereas Grealish has become predictable

 

In another world, I could have played under Terry Venables at Barcelona. I would have loved that, and I’m sure we would have had a good time together in Catalonia.

 

More on why that didn’t happen in just a second. But first, Terry’s passing this week made me think back to when I was a 15-year-old boy arriving at Tottenham from Scotland. In life, you remember the good guys, and Terry was that.

 

He was 10 years older than me and a larger-than-life character in the first-team. In those days, you had to knock on the first-team dressing-room door before you went in. I remember Terry being one of the friendly faces who always had time for you. That stayed with me.

 

I’ll never forget the sound of his voice, either, singing everywhere he went. Be it on the treatment table getting a massage or in the team bath, you could always hear him singing. That was him. Later, I would see Terry at dinners and matches and he was one of those people that would just attract others towards him, because of his personality.

 

I once almost joined the late Terry Venables at Barcelona and it would have been a lot of fun

But he was also a football nut, a top, top coach who just wanted to talk about the game, at least when he wasn’t singing! When he was starting out as a manager at Crystal Palace and QPR, I recall him and his assistant, Allan Harris, used to come to nearly every Liverpool European game at Anfield.

 

They’d get the last train back to London. They wanted to know the secret of Liverpool’s success and expand their own knowledge. Terry was a real student of football like that, with an appetite to learn. He also had such a charming way that people would listen to him.

 

So, when Barcelona tried to sign me in the summer of 1984 – as Terry was taking over as manager – I was definitely interested. Gerry Armstrong was helping with the negotiations for me, because he played in Spain at the time and knew Terry through Spurs connections.

 

The stumbling block was that I wanted a three-year deal, and they offered two. I ended up signing for Sampdoria in Serie A, which was the best league in the world at the time, and I loved every minute.

 

But playing under Terry at a club like Barcelona, now that would have been fun.

 

 

Onana must improve if he wants United future

What a fantastic game of football that was between my old club Galatasaray and Manchester United on Wednesday, played out in wintery conditions and an unbelievable atmosphere that I know very well.

 

It was the kind of game, as a coach, when you’re tearing your hair out. It was basketball – you attack, we’ll attack. That’s not what you want from your team, but as a spectator I wasn’t complaining!

 

Without two clangers from Andre Onana, Man United would have come away from Istanbul with an excellent victory, instead of a 3-3 draw. When you play for Man United, you make a mistake and it’s highlighted across TV, radio and newspapers the world over.

 

Onana has to deal with that and remove those errors from his game very quickly, or I suspect he won’t be at the club very long.

 

Andre Onana has to stop making errors if he wants to have a future at Manchester United

 

My return to the airwaves

I am coming off the bench to rejoin talkSPORT from Monday and I can’t wait to get back in the studio – or should we call that the ‘ring’? – with my old sparring partner and fellow Mail Sport columnist, Simon Jordan.

 

When I was there before, I was still working at Sky and it was a wee bit too much, all the travelling and being away from my family. Now I’ve had a sabbatical and refreshed the batteries, I’m looking forward to the challenge that Simon brings.

 

I can’t wait to rejoin talkSPORT and work with my old sparring partner Simon Jordan again

IT’S ALL KICKING OFF!

It’s All Kicking Off is an exciting new podcast from Mail Sport that promises a different take on Premier League football.

 

It is available on MailOnline, Mail+, YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify.

 

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