Jack Grealish’s Wembley cameo impressed Pep Guardiola and the Manchester City manager is in bullish mood for the new season despite a 1-0 Community Shield defeat to Leicester City.
British record signing Grealish appeared as a second-half substitute in the traditional English curtain raiser, but Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench to win and convert a late penalty against his former club.
Back at the stadium where he was the focus of adoration during England’s Euro 2020 campaign, £100million man Grealish was rapturously received by the Manchester contingent, but the Leicester fans jeered his every involvement.
That amounted to a tidy 15 of 16 passes completed, including one chance created for fellow substitute Ben Knight, with 25 touches overall and seven duels contested in 25 minutes on the field.
“I saw many incredibly good things today. I don’t feel we played badly. I said to all the guys how proud I am,” Guardiola told a post-match news conference.
“But in this business, you must win. And when you don’t, congratulate the opponent.
“Jack was really good – aggressive, going against full-backs. Every time he had the ball he had three players [drawn towards him].
“We will find the tempo, he will know his mates, we will know him and, step by step, we will find our best.
“I know he is a lovely guy so he will adapt quickly.
“He didn’t come to play 25 minutes, he came to play five or six years, that’s why we will be incredibly patient like we will be for all new players every time they come.”
Guardiola reserved praise for teenagers Cole Palmer and Sam Edozie, who were rewarded with starts after impressive pre-season showings in the absence of a host of international stars including Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Gabriel Jesus.
Winger Edozie scored three goals in three friendlies, only to shank a clear first-half opening against Leicester. However, Guardiola felt the 18-year-old’s response spoke volumes.
“What I like from them is they lost one or two balls and then the next one, try again and try again,” he said.
“Cole was exceptional all game. In the first half [Ricardo] Pereira won the duels with Sam but second half he was incredibly aggressive.
“Since minute one in the second half, Sam took the ball and was aggressive
“Unfortunately, we missed some chances and did not create much up front, but the game was there.”
Guardiola again bemoaned a schedule that has denied him much time on the training ground with key stars, but he is confident City can deliver as they pursue a fourth Premier League in five seasons.
“Mentally, yeah, of course I’m ready. But how can we be ready when some of the players have three or four training sessions?” he added.
“We have to adapt, adapt and adapt. We did last season when we started a little bit flat. After a while we were there and started to win.
“After what I saw today, I am incredibly confident that many good things are going to happen this season.”