‘He will be back’: Pep Guardiola expects Jack Grealish to rediscover form

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Jack Grealish;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Jack Grealish</a> did not make an appearance for <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Manchester City;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Manchester City</a> in the FA Cup final.</span><span>Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters</span>

Pep Guardiola has insisted Jack ­Grealish will bounce back from a ­disappointing season that ended with him left as an unused ­substitute in Manchester City’s last three matches, including the FA Cup final defeat against Manchester United on Saturday.

Grealish started only 20 Premier League games and scored three goals, though his campaign was disrupted by a dead leg and a groin problem. Jérémy Doku started ahead of the winger in City’s 3-1 victory against West Ham that sealed the Premier League title and with Guardiola’s side 2-0 behind at half-time against Manchester United at Wembley, the manager ignored Grealish again and brought on the Belgian instead.

Guardiola said: “He [Grealish] will be back. He’s struggled this ­season. Jérémy has made an incredi­ble step forward as everyone has seen in the last games. But Jack will be back at the level of last season – I’m pretty sure.”

Guardiola stated he will strengthen in the transfer market this summer. “My sporting director [Txiki Begiristain] says everything is fine [planned] for next year but right now I don’t know what might happen. I know some players have to make a decision on whether they stay with us, some players might come.

“I’m really pleased with the team, how they’ve behaved all season. I could not say differently. It was nice to be in this final, unfortunately we lost, but after what we did in the Premier League and the Champions League [knocked out on penalties in the quarter-finals] – it’s fine.

“People say every season we have to win trebles and doubles – we are good but we are not that good. We tried, we were there until the end. We lost a game because in finals a lot of things can happen in moments, ­mistakes, decisions and it can ­influence the game.”

City secured a historic fourth suc­cessive Premier League title this month. Guardiola will now rest before finding new motivation for next season. “It’s difficult for me to process [at the moment], especially after winning the Premier League,” he said.

“Now we need to relax and we will be back as fresh as possible. Next season we’ll have to go step by step, we’ll see what happens, what squad we will have.

“We have to start to work and after that we will see. My feeling is that this season has been amazing. The team has been extraordinary, the way we played in the Champions League where we didn’t lose one game.

“Maybe we did not have the rhythm in the first half [against United], they played long. They [the City players] gave everything today to perform as well as possible. In the second half we were better and we had the chances to equalise, to reduce the margins.”

Goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo gave United a 2-0 lead at Wembley with City’s only response being Doku’s late strike, meaning they failed to become the first team in English football ­history to do the double Double. “You have to stay and give respect to the ­opponent,” Guardiola said.

“We played to win, they deserved it, congratulations. I could say a few things [more] but I’ll just say con­gratulations. It’s not going to change next season. They lift the trophy and we just have to do better.”

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