In a matter of months, Jack Grealish has gone from being one of the most beloved figures in Aston Villa’s history to a very polarising individual, and once again, he’s catching the ire of the Villa Park faithful.
The Birmingham Mail posted a somewhat controversial piece about an interview Grealish conducted on ITV Sport about his move from Villa to Manchester City, and they didn’t hold back, labelling him arrogant, jealous and classless.
Understandably, the England international took issue with these claims, and he hit back on social media.
This is the worst and most one sided article I’ve ever seen.. Classless? Jealous? Couldn’t wait to get out? Arrogance? How exactly? I’ve been a villa fan my whole life and still am. The thing is you don’t understand what goes on in the real football world.
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) September 3, 2021
So, what did he say in this ITV interview that was so bad?
His crimes are as follows – he said he wants to play in the biggest games and that he thought his £100m release clause may be triggered one day – that’s all he said. Nothing disrespectful, nothing bitter and nothing nasty.
Can you blame any footballer for wanting to play in the Champions League? In our view, you can’t. This sport is Grealish’s great passion, it’s his life’s work and when all is said and done it will be his legacy.
In order to go down as an all-time great you have to play in the biggest games in the biggest competitions, and Grealish has the talent to make his mark on footballing history, and as much as Aston Villa fans won’t like to hear it, they’re not a club capable of hitting those heights right now.
We could understand the disdain if Grealish forced a move or if he had demanded a ludicrously low release clause be inserted into his deal, but that’s not the case.
Grealish’s release clause was set at £100m, a fee that made him the most expensive Premier League player in history, and that’s absolutely a fair value.
Let’s not forget, this release clause was inserted in September 2020, just months after Villa had narrowly escaped relegation on the final day of the 2019/20 season.
At the time his contract was signed hardly anyone would have guessed that Grealish would command a £100m fee, but after an incredible 2020/21, he earned his move.
The discourse that every player who leaves your club is a ‘snake’ or a traitor has to stop. Grealish didn’t move out of jealousy of his England teammates, he moved to fulfil the ambitions that every footballer has, winning trophies and playing at the very highest level.
He didn’t force a move and he didn’t refuse to play, he left the club on the best terms possible, while helping his boyhood club receive a record fee that should set them up for years to come.
Every football fan is guilty of having a short memory, especially when it comes to players leaving our clubs, but surely Villa fans should know better than anyone how much of a difference £100m can make to their club.
Think about it, Grealish stuck with Villa when they were in dire straits, he stayed through winding-up orders and threats of administration, and he’s left the club in the strongest position they’ve been in since he debuted with an extra £100m to show for it. That’s something to be admired, not criticised.
Does Grealish owe Villa a lot? Of course he does, they’re the club that gave him his big break, but he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation or an apology for joining England’s most successful football club of the last decade after years of great service at Villa Park.