Jack Grealish believes criticism of Gareth Southgate in the summer was “very harsh” given the success he has enjoyed during this time as England manager.
While the nation is still searching for a first senior men’s trophy since 1966, the Three Lions have never been closer to matching Sir Alf Ramsey’s heroes than the last two major tournaments.
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Southgate led England on a run to the World Cup semi-finals four years ago that was as surprising as it was unforgettable, before last summer bringing the country within a penalty shootout of Euro 2020 glory.
But the former defender has never strayed far from criticism and came under fire after a challenging four-game Nations League slog in June ended with a 4-0 Molineux mauling by unfancied Hungary.
“I think it was harsh,” fan favourite Grealish said of the reaction to Southgate.
“We reached the final last year and then the Hungary game (we lost 1-0) at the start of the last camp, I think before that the last time we’d lost a game over 90 minutes was maybe Belgium in November 2020 or something.
“So, I think it is very harsh, especially (as you saw at) the World Cup and the Euros of how well the team done and the manager himself.
“I thought it was obviously harsh but sometimes that’s what you get if you’re English. I’ve certainly had my fair share!”
Grealish, the £100million man, knows a thing or two about scrutiny.
The 27-year-old was already in the spotlight before last summer’s big-money switch from Aston Villa to Manchester City, but that only intensified things for the attacking midfielder.
Grealish scored his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat of Wolves, with Kevin De Bruyne suggesting after that English players like him are unfairly targeted because of the nation’s mentality of criticising their own.
The Belgium international’s viewpoint was put to Grealish, who smiled and said to the journalist: “I’ll ask you, do you?”
When the reporter said he agreed, the England international said with a laugh: “I don’t know – I want to be friends with you all!
“I can obviously see where he’s coming from a little bit.
“But I think that’s just the way it is in this country, especially if you’re myself, playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world, who are winning trophies every single year.
“And obviously when I have the price tag on my head that I have, people are going to want to talk. It’s just something that I need to (get on with).
“I keep going back to it, saying embrace it and it’s just part and parcel, really. But, yeah, I do see where he’s coming from a little bit.”
Despite Grealish’s positive attitude, a report on Tuesday revealed that the 27-year-old has told those close to him that he does not see himself playing for City beyond next summer.
90min claim Grealish has asked his agent to find him potential suitors as he looks to get his career back on track.