Jack Grealish has backed England manager Gareth Southgate after he endured “very harsh” criticism following the Three Lions’ disappointing results in the summer.
While the World Cup in November is England’s focus, Southgate’s side are in danger of relegation from their Nations League group heading into Friday’s match against Italy.
England failed to win any of its four Nations League games in June, a dismal run that featured a pair of embarrassing defeats against Hungary.
That triggered a deluge of criticism for Southgate, but Manchester City and England winger Grealish believes that was unfair to a manager who led his country to the Euro 2020 final and the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.
“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,” Grealish said.
“So, I think it is very harsh, especially as you saw at the World Cup and the Euros 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 knows all about public criticism after his erratic form for Premier League champions City since his British record £100 million ($113 million) move from Aston Villa last year.
The 27-year-old scored his first goal this season in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Wolves, with City team-mate Kevin De Bruyne suggesting afterwards that English players are unfairly targeted for abuse.
“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,” Grealish said.
“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.”