Southgate plays down Gascoigne comparisons amid Grealish hype | David Hytner

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Manager remains realistic when bestowing praise on England’s new arrival, who is unlikely to start against Belgium

To Gareth Southgate, the comparison is, frankly, ludicrous. Managers tend to get annoyed when their players are likened to the greats of yesteryear or, at least, they try to downplay them and Southgate spoke with typical honesty about why Jack Grealish, who has man-of-the-moment status after a few excellent performances, ought not to be mentioned in the same breath as Paul Gascoigne. The talking point has floated around a little of late.

“I don’t want to be dampening the enthusiasm for Jack,” the England manager said. “When you’re talking about Gascoigne, there is not a player in English history who was at that level. I just feel that Gascoigne is so unique. It’s a bit like talking about Bobby Moore.” It is impossible to argue with Southgate about Gascoigne and he was also at pains to highlight Grealish’s qualities, namely the “fabulous ability to receive under pressure, to protect the ball, to dribble past people at a slightly different speed to some of our other players, the way he moves and draws fouls”. They were in evidence during the midfielder’s performance in Thursday night’s 3-0 friendly win over Wales.

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Written by David Hytner
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