With plenty of Aston Villa fans having high hopes for Jack Grealish, it’s not unfair to say his own adjustment back to the Premier League level, following his brief previous experience, took a while to happen.
Having been caught dallying on the ball in the first few games, his decision making and his feet got up to speed and although consistency remains an issue, he has more than shown what he’s capable of during some of our games so far in the 2019/20 campaign.
With plenty of problems at the club when it comes to our performances and our battle against relegation – Jack himself has long been an issue. Is he better through the middle, on the left or should he have a free role to do what he wants? Should he continue coming deep to get the ball, or should he be banned from entering our own half so he expends his energy in the part of the pitch we need him?
As we pondered these thoughts (and many others) on Jack’s Vital Villa Forum Thread, danvilla2 gave some interesting thoughts.
Jack doesn’t know what type of player he wants to be, for me he needs to model his game on someone successful and stick with it. He wants to be everyone, my advice to him is that he’ll ultimately be remembered for the assists and goals he creates, not the number of touches he has in a game. Bruno Fernandez is a player I like that Jack could be, it’s different circumstances but it’s the same role.
He needs to learn, and be coached, about tempo – when to play it forwards quickly and when to hold onto it. Too often, it’s the latter when it should be the former. If we’re 3-0 up, take as many touches as you want and slow it down. Too many half opportunities are lost because Jack wants to make a guaranteed pass but there’s nothing wrong with a quick ball over the top to a winger.
Positionally, he doesn’t stick to his role. I reckon there must be some frustration within the ranks. Too often today (Wolves) he’s dropping to pick the ball up off Mings in arms distance of Luiz and Marv. None of them have any understanding, if Luiz was being pulled away I would get it.
As a captain, he doesn’t have the leadership qualities to take control when things go badly. Against Chelsea, we needed to sit tight for ten minutes, yet we conceded immediately after their equaliser. Just before half time today, him and Hourihane messed up an opportunity to get it in the box from a free kick. I don’t see a smart leader with stereotypical captain attributes, I see a player who leads by example – which is great when’s things are going well.
Jack is probably the most talented player we have ever had in the top flight, sadly in one of the worst ever Premier League sides we’ve had. He’s overcompensating but he’s also proving to be a massive problem with his lack of awareness.
I’m not Jack bashing before anyone pulls me up on it. It’s constructive criticism for Jack to improve when he moves on to better things, and also for us to make him more productive in these final few games.
I don’t think there will be many who disagree with Dan’s main points here, we need Jack to work his magic around the opposition’s penalty box, not ours. For all the talk of potential moves away and whether his head is already elsewhere, I’d say the effort he puts into games largely disproves that, but we need him to use that effort in a more targeted way – both for our benefit in games, but also his own continued development as he’s nowhere near the finished product yet.