It has always been easy to fall in love with any player that has an affinity with the club beyond just picking up a wage.
From standing among us and rising through the youth team ranks, a NextGen Series champion back in 2013 before going on to make over a century of first-team appearances for the Villa, ‘Super’ Jack is the epitome of someone that us fans should whole-heartedly cherish being as he is and very much one of our own.
I – like every supporter reading this article – was desperate for Grealish to stay with the club beyond the summer months and, let’s be honest, it was nothing short of divine intervention that helped steer the young man away from Daniel Levy’s tight-fisted clutch. Indeed it’s likely that had the Spurs chairman not been such a scrooge then Grealish may have made the switch to North London before the badly needed cash injection into the clubs coffers came.
In a remarkable turn of events, from quite literally being bent over a barrel, our star man was staying put and in late September he put pen-to-paper on a double your money five year deal.
Can love be blind?
Seeing what Grealish has brought to the table since the summer I’m now beginning to doubt myself whether he really is the maverick that I once considered him to be.
The football under Steve Bruce was more often than not unendurable to the naked eye and so, if truth be told, it really didn’t take much for me to edge towards the tip of my seat and throughout last season it always seemed to be Grealish that provided those fleeting moments of contentment. That worldie against Cardiff City immediately springs to mind.
My subconscience is now beginning to toy with itself: are these occasional flashes of quality a true measure of Jack’s ability or does this only further highlight the lack of flair and creativeness that we saw throughout the dinosaurs reign?
Is Jack really THAT good?
One of my biggest concerns with Jack is that I’m yet to see him add quick-footedness, moving the ball on and forward thinking to his game. Far too often when he gets the ball to feet, he’s looking to slow it down and this enables our opponents to get men behind the ball and our path to goal becomes infinitely more difficult.
Jack is really good at using his body to shield the ball and because of that he gets clipped and goes to ground an absurd amount of times during a game. But sometimes – especially when we have men flowing forward and we’re looking to overload – I just wish he’d get on with it. There have been so many occasions in which there has been no need for him to go to ground in areas where it’d be much more advantageous if he were to stay on his feet and move the ball on.
Now that Dean Smith has come in I do believe it’ll benefit him in the sense of playing his best and most natural position as a number 10. Out left he just dilly-dallied with it and as a centre-forward making runs there’s nothing more frustrating than constantly having to check back and wait for that delivery time-and-time again.
In his preferred role as a number 10 I’m sure Smith will give him the freedom to go and do what he does best. The highest point of a three in the middle picking up the ball in those pockets between the opposition back four and midfield, turning, dribbling and looking to make things happen. It’s then time for Jack to use his talent and savvy.
Unless you’re extra special – like a Leo Messi – then going out and doing the simple things should never be understated. Rather than trying to do too much, Jack should be looking to move it on quicker, spreading it right or left or finding Tammy with an intricate ball in behind or over the top.
When does potential stop being potential?
By no means do I think Jack’s a bad player and nor should this post be seen as a hammering.
Having only just turned 23 years of age Grealish still has time to tinker and add things to his game.
I wouldn’t want it to be the case that in four or five years time we’re looking back at Grealish’s ‘younger days’ and talking about him not ever fulfilling his true potential. And that time will go much quicker than what you think.
Without making some slight and simple adjustments to his game then he could quite easily go down in that bracket of players that never quite made as much of an impact as what their natual ability should’ve enabled them to.
Has the failed Spurs pursuit played a part in Jack’s poor form?
Quite possibly and that’s why I wouldn’t want to go in too hard on Jack.
Just four weeks ago Grealish revealed to the Birmingham Mail that the summer persuit had made him “unsettled.” But in football there is little time to reflect on what might have been. We’re now just a few days off of November and although we’re not entirely reliant on Jack to perform, he does have a massive part to play and yet in 15 outings in both league and cup he has little to show from his inclusion on the team sheet, with no goals and just a single assist.
Each and every Villa fan so wants him to succeed. The ball is firmly at Jack’s feet and it’s now up to him as to what he does with it…
Tune in to watch Grealish & co in action on Friday night against QPR live on Sky Sports Football with a 19:45 kick-off time.
Written by Ryan Pitcher