Pep Guardiola challenged Jack Grealish to copy Raheem Sterling and become as prolific as his new teammate after he opened his Manchester City account on his home debut.
Grealish became the first £100m player to score in the Premier League when he kneed in City’s second goal in a 5-0 thrashing of Norwich, getting the champions a belated first win after losing to Leicester in the Community Shield and then Tottenham last week.
Sterling came off the bench to score from a similar, close-range position, with both goals coming via a Gabriel Jesus cross. Grealish has never scored more than 10 goals in a season but Sterling’s best was 11 before he first played for Guardiola and he got 31 in 2019-20 and has 93 across the last four seasons.
The City manager believes his record buy has the potential to follow suit. “If he gets the mentality to score goals like Raheem, then yeah,” Guardiola said. “Raheem, when I arrived here five years ago, didn’t have the goal in his mind. That changed. Today Raheem scored a goal because he arrived in the central position like a No 9. He is a machine there. He changed his mind and decided he is going to score, score, score.”
Guardiola also pledged that Jesus would keep his place after he set up three goals while operating as a right-winger. The Brazil international has spent much of his City career as a striker and as Sergio Agüero’s understudy but prefers to play on the flanks.
Guardiola praised Jesus for his attitude, saying: “He deserves to continue playing. He is a player who likes to play more wider than central positions. He never complains. If he plays five minutes, he plays the best five minutes he can do. If he plays on the right, he is happy, if he plays central, he is happy, if he plays on the left, he is happy. I am so happy for Gabriel. It was an incredible, important performance for us. In life he deserves the best because he is so generous.”
While City wait to see if they can sign Harry Kane from Tottenham, Guardiola is more likely to use Ferran Torres as a striker and Jesus as a winger in the future, though he said: “Both players can play in all three positions in the attack. That is so good for team.”
The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email.
He added a warning that City can improve further. “The result was the consequence of how many good things we have done,” he said. “Still we are not in our top. Still we have many things to do.”
The Norwich manager, Daniel Farke, whose side had begun with a 3-0 defeat by Liverpool, was critical of his team’s defending. The left-back Dimitris Giannoulis was substituted at half-time after failing to halt Jesus and Farke said: “If they play with confidence, City is the best team in the world. I am a bit disappointed with the way we conceded the goals.
“To concede four times the same goal is difficult. It was a tough day for Dimi. In the first game he had to defend against Mo Salah who had one goal two assists – and after 20 minutes [today] his direct opponent Jesus had two assists.”