Football Football
Horse Racing Horse Racing
Cricket Cricket
Basketball Basketball
Golf Golf

Chris Waddle: Aston Villa should move for Jack Grealish

11 Jun | news | BY Betway Insider | MIN READ TIME |
Chris Waddle: Aston Villa should move for Jack Grealish
Source: Alamy Stock Photo

The former England, Newcastle and Tottenham star believes Grealish must revive his career after missing out on Euro 2024.

England legend Chris Waddle believes Jack Grealish should look to rejoin his old club, Aston Villa, after missing out on a spot in Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 squad.

In our wide-ranging interview, Waddle also questions if Gareth Southgate would be a success at Manchester United, and believes Portugal will win the summer tournament with England going out in the semi-finals.

What did we learn from the Iceland game?

I don’t think we should be worried by the England game although it does show the defence is a difficult thing to get right. Southgate probably had Maguire and Stones in mind with Luke Shaw, now he has a problem.

In midfield he has so many options, no problems there but there is a huge concern at how we’re going to keep goals out.

What did you make of the omissions, particularly Jack Grealish?

Grealish is a character. He’s become a left-winger in his career, but Jeremy Doku has kept him out. I can see why he’s left out when you’ve got Anthony Gordon, who’s played well this season, taking people on. Foden has had a great season and can play there and so can Eberechi Eze.

So I can see how Grealish has become fourth or fifth choice, you’re going to take a player who will be fourth or fifth choice. He gives balance to a side but as a winger, you have to make things happen when you get that ball one on one.

But I look at Jack and he cuts back at Manchester City, it’s back to Rodri, back to Rodri, back to Rodri. You just think yes he gives them balance, but he’s not positive enough in taking people on, and only rarely does he come inside and shoot. 

I’m not sure he’s a left-winger, and probably if you sat him down and said where would you like to play I’m sure he would say in the middle or a number 10, getting involved more on the ball, playing one-twos, affecting the game more from the middle.

I’ve never classed him as a winger. I criticise him as much as anyone else because he doesn’t play as a winger. The only good thing for him would be if Kevin De Bruyne does leave, could Jack play the De Bruyne role? That would probably be his ideal position. 

Will they look at that or bring someone in? If they do bring someone in, I think Grealish should leave. At his age he needs to play. It’s no good sitting in the stands having people talk about how good you are. Well you’re not that good if you’re in the stands. For me, if De Bruyne doesn’t leave, then if I was Jack I’d be thinking, why would I want to be a squad player?

His driving ambition should be to play week in, week out. 

I agree with Southgate’s decision to leave him out, it was right. He played 90 minutes in the last eight games of the season, I know City are an incredible team, hard to get in, but if you want to play for England you have to be playing football.

What clubs would suit Grealish next?

If you’re buying Grealish, are you buying him as a winger? Tottenham like pace, Jack is not blessed with pace. You’d have to play him in a number 10 role, and they already have James Maddison for that.

So Spurs no, and I wouldn’t say Arsenal either. Liverpool play a very high tempo game, so I’m not sure about there too. What you’re looking at is, would you play Grealish as a winger or a number 10, or midfield player? If I was buying him I’d be looking to play him in the middle. He does a job on the wing, but wingers create, get round the back, and Jack can’t get round the back. 

Yeah, he doesn’t give the ball away and doesn’t take a lot of risks, gives the side balance. But I think I’d be looking at his old club Aston Villa, I’d be looking to play him in that three in the middle of the park. I’m not sure about Newcastle, they play a high tempo and press. I think he has to go to a side where they are looking to play him as a midfield player.

Chelsea could be an outside bet with Gallagher possibly going, you could see him playing that midfield role. He’d be more effective there. He’s got vision, he can see things, he’s good at give and go. But he’s stuck on that wing, you’re thinking there is surely more in his locker.

So if I was a top club looking for a winger, I’d be looking at players ahead of Grealish.

What would your starting England XI be?

Pickford, Walker, Stones, Guehi, Trippier, Rice, Bellingham, Saka, Palmer, Foden and Kane.

My ideal starting England XI would not be Southgate’s. I’d go for Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker. Middle of the park is the problem, John Stones has picked up an injury, I’d go Marc Guehi, behind him is Lewis Dunk, but they lack the experience at international level.

At left back, if Luke Shaw is not fit you will have to go for Kieran Trippier, you can’t see anyone else playing that role. Oppositions will be looking at our defence and seeing an opportunity. Guehi gives a lot of silly fouls away and daft cards, that would come with experience but he doesn’t have that. You have Ezri Konsa from Villa, but again he’s not experienced. 

The middle of the back-four is a concern, I think Trippier is getting on a bit now too and he hasn’t had the best season, but if Shaw isn’t fit he’s the best option for that role. Ahead of that, in my eyes I’d go for Declan Rice with Bellingham deeper, I’d put Cole Palmer as the number 10, Phil Foden on the left and I’d start Bukayo Saka on the right and Harry Kane up front.

I don’t think Southgate will go that way, I think he’ll go Rice and Mainoo sitting. I think what the opposition will be looking at as a team are forward players, all of a sudden that is a hard group for your team to defend against. It’s very difficult. Our weakness is the defence so he may as well say, we need to score goals. 

We will look vulnerable against big teams so we may as well be positive.

Who will win the Euros?

There are four teams to contest this: Spain, England, Portugal and France. Of those, I think Portugal will win it. The only problem with them is the No. 9 position. Can Cristiano Ronaldo play that many games? I know he’s a very fit guy, but we’re talking about a different level of football here compared to Saudi.

The problem is the back-ups don’t look that great, the other day they had all the ball against Croatia and lost. They have the squad to win it, but they need to find the balance right, and how much can they get out of Ronaldo? He can still score goals. He’s always been the goalscorer, now he’s 39-years-old. Asking him to play every game will be asking a little bit too much.

How far will England go?

I think England will get to the semi-finals, and definitely out of the group. Serbia are a dangerous team, with Mitrovic, they have a talented squad although they can lose their heads. 

I played with their manager at Marseille, Dragan Stojkovic, he’s a calm lad and he’ll want them to play football. He loves to see them get on the ball. Dusan Tadic is fantastic, although he’s 35. I think we’ll beat them. I’m not impressed by Slovenia at all, I will be very surprised if we don’t beat them 3 or even 4 nil.

Denmark look very dangerous. Big, strong and a big tempo about them. They’re hard to beat, and normally very good in the first few games before they run out of legs. That will be a very hard game for England, second half.

They way I’ve mapped it out, looks like we’ll get France in the semis. We can beat them but they’re a very, very good side. They can mix it up a lot, rest some players easily and bring some quality players in.

Is Gareth Southgate a fit for Manchester United?

I don’t know if Southgate will be a good fit for Manchester United. It’s really difficult coming out of international management to club football. At international level you have a pick of all the best players although you don’t get much time with them. 

The biggest challenge he’ll face, like anyone, is results. If you don’t get results the fans start shouting and the media get onto you. It’s a massive job, as Ten Hag has found out. You’re chasing Manchester City and Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham too. You wouldn’t say the squad is fantastic, there needs to be a lot of turnaround again, and do they have the resources?

If Southgate was to go in there, it would be a very difficult job to get them into the top-four and challenge for the league. You’re asking too much, for whoever goes in.

If Southgate does leave, who would you like to see taking his spot?

I’d like to see England approach Pep Guardiola once he leaves Manchester City. I think eventually he will want an international job. With him, you’d feel like we can win something. I think England are that team. If I was the FA, with this being his last season at Manchester City, we believe, I would be into his ear now.

I’d approach him. If not, Eddie Howe is a good candidate. He plays nice football and everyone likes him, and he gets on well with the players. Does he have enough experience? Newcastle should have qualified for the Champions League knockouts stages too.

His name will be mentioned along with the usual suspects. But I’d go for Guardiola. I think he would fancy it. It’s a great challenge. Someone has to win something for England one day. We have knocked on the door on numerous occasions. Players respect him so much, and if the FA let him off the leash and just said, do what you need to do to win the next World Cup, then why not? He’s probably the best manager in the world, so approach him now.

He might look at Brazil and Germany, but he knows the English game and English players. It would be an opportunity missed if they don’t at least enquire.

Which two England players would you most like to see venturing into music, just like you and Glenn Hoddle did?

They would have to be brave! Top of the Pops was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and that includes missing that penalty against West Germany. Looking at the characters, I’d have said James Maddison and Jack Grealish, but they were left out.

They are two characters who look like they would enjoy it. Ollie Watkins looks like a bit of a character and so does Saka, I thought if those two had a go at it, it would be interesting. I don’t know who the main actors are in the changing room, but Grealish and Maddison would have loved it, two characters.

Bellingham maybe too, but looking at the squad I’m going for Bellingham and Saka.

“I was out of my comfort zone, doing Top of the Pops. I love music. We all sit and play the air guitar, but when you get the opportunity to do a song, at first I loved it, but then when you get that phone call to say you’re on Top of the Pops, wow, it’s like going into a different world.

People ask me so I talk about Diamond Lights every week of my life. Someone always brings it up. I’m very proud of it and I’m glad I did it, but looking back it was the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever done.

Visit Betway’s Euro 2024 betting page, and check out our complete guide to Euro 2024.

Betway Insider

Betway Insider

The Insider is an editorial blog for Betway, one of the best betting sites, featuring sporting insight, intelligent comment and informed betting tips for football betting and all other major sports.

Betway Insider

Betway Insider

The Insider is an editorial blog for Betway, one of the best betting sites, featuring sporting insight, intelligent comment and informed betting tips for football betting and all other major sports.