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‘It is not about football’ – Kevin De Bruyne calls out Jack Grealish critics

Jack Grealish celebrates scoring Manchester City’s opener at Wolves (Martin Rickett/PA)
Jack Grealish celebrates scoring Manchester City’s opener at Wolves (Martin Rickett/PA)

Kevin De Bruyne believes Jack Grealish’s critics are too focused on his personal life as he backed the England midfielder to deliver.

Belgium international De Bruyne reckons the spotlight is on his £100million Manchester City team-mate because of his nationality and, if he was a foreign player, he would be left to adapt.

Grealish scored his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League triumph at 10-man Wolves.

The 27-year-old had come under fire for a lack of goals and assists – it was just his fourth top-flight strike since joining City from boyhood club Aston Villa in August 2021 – but De Bruyne feels some of the criticism is only because he is English.

“Yes, it is not about football,” he said. “Outside of football, the focus is more on them (the English players). I understand because they are English and people tend to look more what is happening.

“I feel like foreign players, for instance, if you have a night out, we don’t really get checked that often. Whereas I feel if an English player goes out, it is always in the media somewhere.

“I think people are taking this on board. What he does in his private life, nobody should care, but people do.

“I don’t feel anybody necessarily thinks about how he felt moving away for the first time and people think it is always easy to do that.

“But there are a lot of obstacles coming around with moving clubs and houses and whatever. You know obviously he needed some time to settle in but he is fine. Be patient, I am not too worried.”

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City – Premier League – Molineux Stadium
Jack Grealish opened the scoring after 53 seconds at Molineux (Martin Rickett/PA)

Grealish scored after just 53 seconds at Molineux before Erling Haaland and Phil Foden made it a comfortable win which took City top before Arsenal’s 3-0 victory at Brentford on Sunday sent them back to the summit.

Former Villa captain Grealish, who was on the receiving end of a reckless waist-high lunge which saw Wolves defender Nathan Collins sent off in the first half, acknowledged after the game that judgement on his lack of end product was fair.

But De Bruyne continued: “If you set certain standards for yourself, everyone is going to measure you to these standards.

“With all due respect, he was at Villa before and if you lose a game sometimes it is not the end of the world. But if we lose a game it is different.

“We have to perform every week and win games.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Manchester City – Premier League – Molineux Stadium
Kevin De Bruyne, right, added two assists to his tally at Molineux (Martin Rickett/PA)

“That is the difference and what he has had to adjust to. As long as we win the games and he is doing a good job for us, that is all that matters.

“Obviously you want to score and get assists, but it is not the end of the world.”

De Bruyne’s two assists for Grealish and Foden saw him equal Steven Gerrard’s Premier League total of 92 assists – in 287 fewer games.

“It is good to help my team,” he said. “I tried to create as many chances as possible for my team and if they score I will get an assist.

“It works together and it is good I can do that. I have been doing the same thing since I came here. It is still going on.”

Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund – UEFA Champions League – Group G – Etihad Stadium
Kalvin Phillips may need shoulder surgery (Martin Rickett/PA)

Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola feels Kalvin Phillips can still make the World Cup after it was confirmed the midfielder may need shoulder surgery on the injury which forced him out of this month’s England squad.

“I think so but I am not a doctor,” Guardiola said. “The doctor has said the only solution right now is to do what he has to do.

“Every time it is out (dislocated) and the doctor says when you have been out three or four times with the shoulder, the only solution is to make a surgery.”