Grealish v Souness is the manufactured feud only an international week (and the media) could love

Editor F365
Jack Grealish celebrates his goal

Jack Grealish gave a sensible response to criticism. Graeme Souness suggested “the modern player doesn’t take criticism very well”. Good lord.


Hit (back) the road, Jack
The international break turned Ivan Toney’s “fair play to” Arsenal into a ‘war of words’ and so there is little surprise at how Jack Grealish’s response to Graeme Souness is being framed.

‘I don’t know what his problem is, he always criticises me’ – Jack Grealish hits back at Graeme Souness over latest jibe,’ is The Sun website‘s take.

‘Man City’s Jack Grealish hits back at Graeme Souness criticism,’ report ESPN.

‘Jack Grealish hits back at Graeme Souness criticism – “Don’t know what his problem is”,’ say the Daily Mirror.

”I don’t know what his problem is’ – Manchester City star Jack Grealish hits back at Graeme Souness,’ is what The Metro go for.

‘Jack Grealish bites back at Graeme Souness after Liverpool hero’s criticism,’ claim the Daily Express website, having clearly not received the memo.

‘Jack Grealish hits back at criticism from Liverpool legend Graeme Souness with Erling Haaland point,’ writes the Liverpool Echo, following suit but with a click-friendly dash of club-specific slants thrown in.

That ‘hit back’ in full:

“I don’t know what his problem is with me. He always says stuff about me. I try not to read it. It is difficult when he’s on Sky Sports and it’s everywhere around the training ground at times. He was a great player and won a lot but I don’t know what it is with me.

“I know my ability. I know he used to say stuff about me not moving the ball quicker but when I’m playing for a manager like Pep Guardiola and he’s telling me to keep the ball as much as I can and have the balls to take it everywhere, that’s what I’ll try and do.

“I am very critical of myself. I know that there were games, especially in the second half of last season, where I wasn’t at my best. I came back fit, had a strong pre‑season and then unfortunately got injured in the second game. But I’m just going to try and get that fitness back because I know I’m not 100% yet. But I’ll always have people on the back of me.”

So an incredibly diplomatic response in the face of relatively regular provocation. As Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian says, ‘Grealish looked amused’ when questioned about Souness. To use the dictionary definition, at no stage did he really ‘attack or criticise someone who attacked or criticised’ him. But the reality is far too boring when there is controversy to manufacture.


Greal deal
In fact, decide for yourself whether Grealish ‘hit back’ at all:

It’s not exactly Carragher v Simpson, is it?


Chop Souey
And obviously the next stage of the cycle is set: the response to the response to the response to the response.

Which means we get Souness telling talkSPORT that Grealish shouldn’t “be so precious” before claiming “the modern player doesn’t take criticism very well”.

This is, of course, the Scot continuing his ‘war of words’ with the England man – so says the MailOnline‘s biggest story in football at lunchtime.

By the way, that would indeed be the same Graeme Souness who told World Cup winner Paul Pogba to “put your medals on the table” and who demanded that Tyrone Mings “bring it on, son” when both dared respond with complete calm and reason to his constant goading, telling Grealish not to “be so precious” before claiming “the modern player doesn’t take criticism very well”.


Fan fiction
It is safe to say that Daily Mail expert Chris Sutton is not exactly in touch with the England supporter base. That is the only conclusion to draw from this line:

‘The 4-0 home defeat by Hungary in June was the first time that England fans have turned on Gareth Southgate, with boos ringing out at Molineux and chants of ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning’.’

England fans have turned on Gareth Southgate literally every time he has named a starting XI for the past five years or so.


De Jong road
‘MANCHESTER UNITED are convinced Frenkie de Jong is committed to a move to Old Trafford. United insist they would not be chasing the player if there was any doubt over his commitment to make the move’ – Neil Custis, The Sun, July 15.

‘FRENKIE DE JONG has revealed he NEVER wanted to join Manchester United in the summer despite his future at Barcelona being up in the air at the time’ – Joshua Mbu, The Sun, September 22.


Rod for your own back
A Daily Mirror website headline of ‘Man City star Rodri makes damning Liverpool point as he offers blunt Premier League verdict’ is relatively tame but achieves its sole purpose of garnering a click.

By the first paragraph, we are told that: ‘Manchester City star Rodri has sent a subtle shot in the direction of his side’s long-term title rivals Liverpool by insisting they are “less effective” this season.’

This ‘subtle shot’ in its entirety?

“The Premier League level is so high that as soon as you slow down, you lose points. Liverpool are not in crisis, they are just less effective, and the Premier League does not allow you to relax.”

That appears to be a mere statement of fact about a Liverpool side that has dropped nine points in six games after dropping just 22 in the whole of last season. They are “less effective”.


Kiss from a Rose
‘Derby AXE boss Rosenior just three months after Rooney quit with Warne targeted’ – The Sun website.

Can you ‘axe’ an interim manager? More to the point, can you ‘AXE’ an interim manager?