Manchester City's Jack Grealish in action REUTERS/Phil Noble
(Reuters) - Manchester City playmaker Jack Grealish said adapting to the team's style of play has been much more difficult than he imagined, almost 18 months after his league record 100 million pounds ($119.25 million) transfer from Aston Villa.
Grealish came off the bench to create City's winning goal at an injury-hit Chelsea on Thursday, sending in a pinpoint cross for fellow substitute Riyad Mahrez to tap in and move Pep Guardiola's side to within five points of leaders Arsenal.
The 27-year-old bagged his third Premier League assist of the campaign and matched his tally from last season, but he still had more league goals and assists in his final season at Villa than he has had since his August 2021 move to City.
"When I came here, I'll be honest, it was so much more difficult than I thought," Grealish told Sky Sports after City's 1-0 win.
Grealish registered six goals and 10 assists for Villa in the league in 2020-21 but only has four goals and six assists in the competition since joining City.
"In my head I thought I was going to the team sitting top of the league and I was going to get so many goals and assists and obviously it isn't the case. A lot of teams tend to sit in against us and that wasn't the case at Villa," Grealish said.
"(Former Villa manager) Dean Smith would tell me to go and find the weak link in the defence, whether that was on the right, the middle or whether I wanted to hug the touchline - and at Villa, I always had an overlapping full-back.
"I came into City, having been at Villa my whole life, and I've never had to change. I've always been used to that. I didn't realise how hard it is to adapt to a different team and manager."
Manchester City host Chelsea in the FA Cup on Sunday.