Man City bus jokes illustrate club confidence in Jack Grealish


If this season has been one where Jack Grealish has pushed himself out of his comfort zone at Manchester City, the hours since the end of the campaign have showcased what the nation loves the player most for. Grealish has only furthered his reputation as a carefree footballer since his move to the Etihad (off the pitch at least) and from the moment he posted from the dressing room swigging a beer on Sunday afternoon it didn’t take a genius to work out what was to come.

The celebrations that night were heavy, and ahead of an encore on Monday night the bus parade through the streets in the afternoon gave the impression that the partying had never really stopped. Not that it is an issue – Pep Guardiola may have punished players for going out and being below peak condition in the depth of the season but he enjoys cutting loose as much as anyone when the time comes.

Front and centre of the bus parade was former Villa man Grealish, a player who had been peripheral to the final day. The 26-year-old slagged off one of the players in the season in Bernardo Silva, suggesting that Guardiola taking him off on the final day was key to the comeback; he offered to buy a Jagerbomb for all fans at Alberts Schloss, a bar he had previously made headlines outside in the middle of the campaign; and when Riyad Mahrez tried to big Kyle Walker up on the stage, Grealish stepped forward in front of everyone to boast that him tearing the right-back apart was why City bought him.

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The fans loved it, the players loved it and, from the side of the stage, Guardiola took a break from cigar-chomping and beer-swigging to laugh with the heartiness of a journalist listening to a manager at a press conference. In that moment, Grealish was the £100m man.

He hasn’t lived up to that tag on the pitch this season, of course. He and everyone know that there must be a sharp upturn in three goals and three assists next season if City are to see value from a player who was largely – and justifiably – overlooked by the manager when it came to the biggest games of the season.

To see Grealish in his element though was to put public confirmation on why there is so much confidence at the club that the player will come good. This wasn’t simply a rascal with liquid courage making fun of his mates, this was someone who had integrated himself so well into one of the most demanding and quality squads in world football to the point where he could say whatever he wanted and still get away with it.

Even without the booze, that attitude has been present in training sessions behind the closed doors of the City Football Academy this season – and has been backed up by his performances with a ball at his feet. While there were some eyebrows raised this season at the game time he enjoyed – particularly early in the campaign – this didn’t relate to anything in training.

As countless players have shown, the hardest thing for any new signing to achieve at Guardiola’s City is to settle into what is expected. Grealish has got better over the course of the last nine months, now he needs to show it where it really matters next season.

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