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Guardiola urges Grealish to ignore critics after slow start at Man City

London (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has urged Jack Grealish to ignore his critics and his underwhelming statistics after a slow start to his Manchester City career.

The England midfielder has not been the dominant force he was at Aston Villa since his British-record £100 million ($134 million) move to the Premier League champions in August, scoring just three goals and making three assists in all competitions.

The 26-year-old even admitted in an interview in December that he had found the transition more difficult than he had expected and thought he would get more assists and goals.

But Guardiola said he was happy with the winger’s contribution.

“Maybe he listened too much to what the people say and it’s wrong,” said the City boss, whose side play second-tier Peterborough in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday.

“Always we talk about the statistics. Players today play for the statistics, but this is the biggest mistake they can do.

“Statistics are just a bit of information that we have, but there are players that make the team play good and are not in the statistics.”

Grealish has not featured in City’s past four games due to a shin problem but was an unused substitute for Saturday’s Premier League victory at Everton and could return to action at Peterborough.

Guardiola said goals would come for Grealish but emphasised that was not his main role in the team.

“We didn’t buy him to score 45 goals,” he said. “He doesn’t have that quality but he has another one. He’s playing good, really. I wouldn’t tell you if he’s not playing good, but that’s not the case.”

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