News From Manchester: Gary Neville comments on Man City signing prove Pep Guardiola has got it right again – Liam Wood

City's spending power since their 2008 takeover has been well-documented. That has brought unparalleled success but, unfortunately, the knives are constantly sharpened away from the Etihad Stadium waiting to see those high-profile recruits drop below the necessary standards.

It is a price worth paying for being at the top and City would have it no other way. As for Grealish in particular, the figure his beloved Aston Villa wanted was his worth, no matter how many observers, pundits or supporters tell you how much should have been paid.

Pep Guardiola and key figures at the Etihad Stadium bit the bullet and did what it took. Grealish is still yet to repay the faith shown in him consistently but, while the cost of his signature was an anomaly, he is by no means the only man to have taken a while to adjust to the demanding Guardiola philosophy.

The time to judge Grealish is this season and more recent additions such as Kalvin Phillips and Erling Haaland warrant the same treatment. Haaland's job in this City team is simply to score goals and give the star-studded group behind him a focal point they have been missing for some time.

Phillips, meanwhile, was the one chosen to strengthen their midfield options. But what will the deep-lying England playmaker specifically offer Guardiola and City moving forward?

Speaking about Phillips last summer, former Manchester United captain turned pundit Gary Neville said: “He came into the Premier League only 12 months ago, but he's now the best English midfielder there is by far. We stereotype players. Is he a holding player? Is he an attacking player? I think he's actually a throwback to someone who can do everything.”

Neville continued: “He runs, he tackles, he passes, he can defend. Honestly, he's fantastic. He's likeable, he also has integrity when he speaks, you like watching him. He runs all day, the stats we see he produces, the most pressures is a dream. He's a fantastic, fantastic player.”

Glowing praise indeed from a man who might have wanted Phillips to pitch up on the other side of this footballing city. In truth, that was never going to happen given his Leeds connections – despite Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand and Alan Smith breaking that particular taboo in the Premier League era.

Neville could not speak more highly about Phillips and the actual value of those comments is staggering. He labels him the best English midfielder by far, even though Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham might both have something to say about that lofty claim.

Similarly to Grealish, though, had City gone knocking for their services this summer, it would have seen them break the British record for a second consecutive summer. Of course, that is no reason alone to sidestep any pursuit of them, but Guardiola has clearly seen the same things as Neville.

Rice and Bellingham each have their own undoubted qualities, but the endless list supplied by Neville ticks a whole range of boxes needed to become a City player. Wavering similar pressure to that which Grealish encountered, they have done so at a snip with his initial 42million fee.

Grealish is unique in his style and brings something different to the Guardiola norm. Phillips, though, is already fit for purpose and in relative terms, his signing – with Rodri already firmly established – comes with no immediate pressure. Quite simply, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has played an absolute blinder.