You cannot deny that Jack Grealish is the best player in the Sky Bet Championship, otherwise he wouldn’t constantly be in the minds and on the tongues of opposition fans.
You see it in the lead up to every game on social media. No matter who Aston Villa are playing, there will always be critics for Villa and their current captain. And generally, the opinions and criticisms are incredibly stale:
“Grealish dives in droves.”
“Someone should just break his legs already, I’d be so happy.”
“If he was so good, Southgate would call him up to the England squad!”
“Villa will be in League 2 the minute he leaves for a big pay day to a more prestigious club.”
Yet, that’s all the opposition supporters talk about when they’re about to come up against Aston Villa. It’s not John McGinn and his incredible work-rate. It’s not the recent play of Glenn Whelan and how he looks to have taken a sip from the Fountain Of Life. They rarely even seem to give credit to Tammy Abraham or his 24 goals and counting this season. It’s always about the Aston Villa Number 10 and the idea that he just isn’t as good as most Villa supporters think he is.
But, wouldn’t it be more rational to say that Grealish is that good because he’s talked about so often by opposing sets of fans? You could wrap the gift any way you want it, but Grealish has gotten and continues to receive praise by pundits and ‘experts’ alike in the footballing world. He is the most fouled player in the EFL Championship by a distance.
Since returning from injury and helping to ignite Aston Villa’s historic 10-game winning run, Grealish has 4 goals and two assists. But it’s just not the hard-lined statistics that paint the picture of Grealish and what he means to Villa. It’s the unmentionables such as making space for other players, seeming to raise the talent of others around him, dribbling the ball laterally to allow his wide-men and fullbacks to run forward. Anyone can say that they wouldn’t want Jack Grealish on their team, and that’s fine, but that’s also a massive and bold-faced lie. While Aston Villa are hoping this current season ends in promotion, Grealish is not the only player trying to carry the team forward. The supporting cast for Grealish at Villa has been absolutely immense over the past few months now, and the rest of the clubs in the EFL Championship are definitely on high alert. Yet, when Aston Villa is said… Grealish is the first name to be mentioned and generally not in a positive way.
Jack Grealish is living rent free in the mind of his critics. All of them. Including Gareth Southgate. The real reason that Grealish is so heavily criticised and put under a microscope is because “the cream rises to the top”, just as Grealish himself said after besting Birmingham City 1-0 earlier in the season. Grealish also scored the winner in that Second City Derby…after being assaulted by a Birmingham City pitch invader. How do you not cheer for a story like that?
Simple jealousy. That’s all it is. Grealish is “one of our own” at Aston Villa. It’s not just a phrase. Villa manager Dean Smith has said it multiple times, Aston Villa is Jack Grealish’s club. You can put all the nasty tweets, the harsh criticisms and the grotesque threats in the very same category. That’s what makes Jack Grealish so good, so fun to watch and so promising for his future. The fact that his name is the first thing about that comes out of opposing fan’s mouths or fingertips is exactly why Grealish is above the Championship. Here’s to hoping that Aston Villa are soon above the Championship, as well.