The Villans captain and Dean Smith’s side were given a reality check in their Premier League opener.
Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish has been advised by Premier League legend and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville that he has a lot more work to do now he is back in the top flight if he is to live up to his potential.
The Villans hero was impressive last season as his return to injury proved the catalyst for Dean Smith’s side to surge up into the Championship’s top six and triumph in the playoffs, but his first match back in the Premier League was a bit of a reality check.
Although Villa took the lead in their opener at Tottenham Hotspur and battled bravely, they were beaten by a late flurry of Spurs goals, with Grealish caught in possession on the edge of his own penalty area for the hosts’ second.
Though it’s still very early days, Neville made it clear that, given the change in quality between the two divisions, there is a lot more that the winger needs to do, such as contributing a lot more defensively and working on his off-the-ball game.
“He’s in the Premier League now and it’s a massive step up,” Neville told Sky Sports, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail. “The team that he’s playing for – you look at those top six teams – he’ll be playing a lot more without the ball than maybe he was in the Championship so there’s massive changes for him to come.
“The demands on him from a defensive point of view, from being effective for the team without the ball are as important. You look at Manchester City now or Liverpool – and the great teams always do – they remove this idea that you can have a luxury player, that you can have somebody who only plays one in two [games].”
Up next for Grealish and Villa is their first Premier League home game of the season, with Bournemouth heading to Villa Park on Saturday, before hosting Everton the following Friday night.