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Sky Blue News: Jack Answers Souness, Erling’s Impact, Women’s Stars, and More...

Thursday headlines to get you ready for national team action on B&B.

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England Nations League Camp Photo by Eddie Keogh - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

It’s Thursday and several Manchester City men’s players are in action for their respective national teams. You can check who plays when by following the link below.

And here are the latest headlines you need to keep up with lads while they’re away, and the ladies as they prep for the weekend WSL match away to Chelsea.

Man City’s Jack Grealish hits back at Graeme Souness criticism - James Olley - ESPN

Jack isn’t letting himself get caught up in Graeme’s negativity.

Former Liverpool midfielder-turned pundit Souness this week claimed Grealish is “a good footballer, not a great player” and claimed he was fouled so often at Aston Villa because he lingered too long in possession was “not seeing the picture quick enough.”

It is the latest in a series of withering assessments from Souness on Grealish, who chose a press conference at St George’s Park following his call-up to the latest England squad for UEFA Nations League matches against Italy and Germany as an opportune moment to respond.

“I don’t know what his problem is with me,” said Grealish. “He always says stuff about me. But I try not to read a lot of it. It is difficult you know when he’s on Sky Sports and it’s everywhere around the training ground at times.

“Listen, he was obviously a great player and won a lot but I know he has a lot of stuff to ... I don’t know what it is with what he says about me or what problem he’s got. I know my own ability.

Jack Grealish: ‘I’m just a normal kid. I know how professional I actually am’ - Jacob Steinberg - The Guardian

Grealish’s goal against Wolves couldn’t have come at a better time as he preps for the UEFA Nations League.

Go with the flow: it is what people want from Grealish when he steps on the pitch. Few players are as fun and there is bound to be plenty of pressure on Gareth Southgate to make the former Aston Villa captain a key part of England’s attack at the World Cup.

For all the buzz around Grealish there are people ready to question whether he merits a place in the side. This is a crucial period for the 27-year-old forward. He was a free spirit at Villa, but from the outside there is a sense that some of the joy has been stripped from his game since he joined City for £100m last year.

“At Villa I was more free,” Grealish says. “At City, there’s more structure. It was obviously going to change my game a bit.”

Grealish is quick to stress he has a good relationship with Pep Guardiola, saying that he has never seen anyone with a better understanding of football than City’s manager. Yet he knows there is room for improvement. His first year at City was not easy, even though he ended it as a league champion, and he was relieved to score his first goal of this season in the 3-0 win at Wolves last Saturday.

Erling Haaland is already having an unseen impact on Man City attackers - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News

We’ve all been floored by his goal-scoring prowess, but now he’s starting to make an impact on the players around him.

As well as the goals Haaland is scoring, his impact on the club as a whole in such a short space of time is remarkable — something only the biggest world stars can do. However, that attention is also having another hidden benefit to the City squad, with players beginning to open up more about the new era at the Etihad since Haaland arrived.

Jack Grealish, speaking on international duty and facing the same Haaland question as Akanji did, had a similar assessment to his new teammate.

“Everywhere I go now — whether it be family, friends, people in the street — they always say ‘what’s he like?’ And I can’t speak highly enough of him,” Grealish said, before explaining how he arrived at the England camp to coaches taking the mick over his goal at Wolves.

At Molineux, Grealish darted into the box just 55 seconds into the game and converted a Kevin De Bruyne cross from close range that had just evaded Haaland.

“Could you get anything off him? I actually think I could,” Grealish continued, “His mindset for scoring goals is unbelievable. If I could get that... I came here and I spoke to (England coach) Steve Holland and he said ‘was that actually you at the back stick scoring?’

STATS: Haaland’s Place in the Table if He Were a Club unto Himself - CITYZENDuck - Bitter and Blue

A look at where Haaland would stand if he were his own club. It’s a little scary tbh.

My mate Dan Sherry reached out to me with a very interesting angle on Haaland’s scoring prowess. Dan took a look at where the God of Thunder would land in the standings if he were his own club. Basically, if we only count Haaland’s goals in the games played so far, how does he stack up against the rest of the Premier League?

Here’s what Dan came up with.

If Erling Haaland was a team all by himself, he’d still be above Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool.

The summer signing from Borussia Dortmund has scored 11 goals in the Premier League in his first 7 appearances, breaking all kinds of records for a player beginning life in the Premier League.

He added another goal to his tally on the weekend, by scoring with his weaker foot from outside the area against Wolves in a 0-3 away win for Man City.

His start to the season has been so ridiculous that if Haaland was the only player that had scored for Man City this season, they would still be third in the Premier League. Yep, that’s right. Haaland would be above Manchester United all by himself.


Manchester City’s other Norwegian signing is looking to make her mark on the blue side of Manchester.

Her first pre-season was one of significant change for Gareth Taylor’s side with several high-profile members of the squad moving on to pastures new.

But with a number of fresh faces through the door, Blakstad is confident that it can be a successful year on both an individual and a collective front.

Indeed, the 21-year-old is excited to make her mark, believing the competition for places will bring the best out of everyone at City.

“I’m feeling better and better every day,” she explained.

“Of course, we have some new players, and the group looks a bit different from last season, but I feel like we’re a really good group now.

What it Takes - Steph Houghton - The Players Tribune

Steph’s rehabilitation struggle, in her own words.

Rehab? It’s tough. I’m not gonna lie.

I rehabbed my other Achilles before the Olympics in 2012, I’ve done my ACL, I’ve broken my leg – so I know for a fact just how much effort and sacrifice it takes.

The surgery, the trips to the specialists, the cast, and then the boot, the calf raises and the iso holds, getting on the bike in my conservatory at 6 a.m., all the planning, the setbacks and the small, small steps.

Mentally, I wasn’t in the best place. The scariest part is the thought, Do I still have it in me to do all that again? At my age? I’m 34.…

The Euros, though, that was the ultimate motivation for me to go through it all again.

Manuel Akanji promises to make Pep Guardiola’s life ‘difficult’ at Man City - Joe Bray - Manchester Evening News

And finally... Manu plans on forcing Pep into some difficult decisions in the defensive setup. A problem the boss is sure to welcome.

Centre-back Akanji has impressed in his three appearances since joining from Borussia Dortmund on deadline day earlier this month, and has managed to keep Ruben Dias, John Stones and Nathan Ake out of the team at times. His debut at Sevilla earned him praise from Guardiola, who compared his style to new teammate Aymeric Laporte and hailed the club for completing the signing.

Akanji, though, knows he will not always be in the starting line-up, especially when Laporte returns from injury. He played down the public praise from his manager.

“What he tells me personally is much more important to me. That gives me extra self-confidence,” the Switzerland international told 20Minuten on international duty.

“He really sees everything on the pitch, but also looks at how the players behave off it.”

That’s all for today. Come back each morning to get all the latest from Sky Blue News right here at Bitter and Blue.