The collective gasp could almost be heard when Manchester City broke the bank to sign Jack Grealish last summer, and with that £100 million price tag came great pressure.

The City’s spending power since their control in 2008 has been extensively established. That has resulted in unprecedented success, but the knives are continuously sharpened away from the Etihad Stadium, waiting for those high-profile newcomers to fall short of the required standards.

It’s a small price to pay for being at the top, and City wouldn’t have it any other way. Regardless of how many onlookers, pundits, or supporters tell you how much Grealish should have been paid, the number his beloved Aston Villa requested was his worth.

Pep Guardiola and other figures at the Etihad Stadium took the risk and did what was necessary. Grealish has failed to reward the trust placed in him on a consistent basis, but while the cost of his signature was an outlier, he is far from the only player who has struggled to adjust to Guardiola’s rigorous mentality.

Grealish should be judged this season, as should more recent signings such as Kalvin Phillips and Erling Haaland. Haaland’s role on this City team is simple: score goals and provide a focal point for the star-studded group behind him, which has been lacking 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.”

Indeed, glowing praise from a man who might have preferred Phillips to play on the opposite side of this footballing city.

In reality, given his Leeds connections, that was never going to happen, despite Eric Cantona, Rio Ferdinand, and Alan Smith breaking that specific taboo during the Premier League period.