Jack Grealish could’ve been perfect for Ralf Rangnick’s Man United amid Man City struggles

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Jack Grealish might be tempted to wonder what could’ve been after his slow start to life at Manchester City.

After two superb seasons in the Premier League with Aston Villa and some eye-catching moments despite not playing enough for England at Euro 2020, Grealish looked like he had the world at his feet going into the 2021/22 campaign.

Instead, the 26-year-old currently looks like a poorly-thought-out purchase at an eye-watering fee for Man City, with just two goals and three assists to show for himself so far.

It’s been a big adjustment for Grealish, who was very much the main man for Villa, but just one of many talented attacking players in Pep Guardiola’s squad.

Could joining Manchester United instead have been an easier transition in that sense? CaughtOffside have previously been told that a move to Old Trafford was the player’s preference, even though a move to City was also in the works for some time. The Red Devils made it clear their preference was to wait for the chance to sign Jadon Sancho, who did eventually join from Borussia Dortmund this summer.

United could also surely have regrets here, with Grealish looking now like he’d be a far better fit than the struggling Sancho; even if the latter was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s favoured option, the Norwegian tactician has now been shown the door. His replacement, Ralf Rangnick, is currently working out how to use Sancho in a 4-2-2-2 formation, which instantly looks like it would be a better fit for Grealish.

Jack Grealish has had a slow start at Manchester City

There is confidence at City that Grealish will come good, with club sources pointing out that the likes of Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez also had long bedding-in periods before growing in stature. CaughtOffside understands that Grealish is not satisfied with how things have gone so far, with the slightly new role and unique methods of manager Guardiola proving a struggle, as they have for many other top players in the past.

The transfer market is often more complicated than it seems, and few can blame Grealish for picking the team that wanted him more, and that surely offers the better chance of silverware in the immediate future.

One has to wonder, however, if we’d be seeing more of the Grealish that lit up Villa Park if he’d made the move to United instead, where he could once again have had a team built around him a bit more, albeit a less successful one, in all probability.

There is no prospect of Grealish looking to leave the Etihad Stadium so soon after arriving, but it will be interesting to see how both parties can work to get the England international back to his best.

There is still a long season ahead, and Grealish has overcome big challenges before. This homegrown lad rose up to become club captain at Villa and will not shy away from doing whatever it takes to fit in to Guardiola’s plans, even if the manager could also do well to recognise the talent he’s dealing with.

The Spanish tactician isn’t always one to allow players maximum creative freedom, and CaughtOffside understands this is proving an issue with how Grealish has settled.

From a neutral perspective, it might also be an issue in that, as long as Guardiola is in charge, it will surely mean compromise on Grealish’s part, which will mean the rest of us are potentially starved of the old swagger and flair that made the nation fall in love with Grealish in the first place.

More Stories Jack Grealish Jadon Sancho Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Pep Guardiola Ralf Rangnick