Why patience is required for Jay-Roy Grot and Leeds United

Leeds United forward Jay-Roy Grot in action against Leicester City in the League Cup.
Leeds United forward Jay-Roy Grot in action against Leicester City in the League Cup.
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Leeds United could learn a lot from how they handled Jay-Roy Grot's first months in West Yorkshire.

Arriving from NEC Nijmegen for an undisclosed fee last summer it was clear United had acquired a player with a lot of promise but one who was raw.

NEC struggled and ultimately lost their fight against relegation from the Eredivisie but Grot was a shining light in an otherwise difficult campaign scoring six times in 24 appearances.

Fiorentina were keen admirers of the youngster but failed to agree a fee with the Dutch club which saw a move to Serie A fall through the cracks.

United fought tooth and nail to get Grot through the doors at Thorp Arch and it was clear they were signing a player who was, and still is, regarded as a top European prospect.

Leeds, though, will look back on this season and wonder at what could've been for his development.

Jay-Roy Grot takes on Marlon Pack during Leeds' 3-0 victory at Bristol City.

Jay-Roy Grot takes on Marlon Pack during Leeds' 3-0 victory at Bristol City.

Would he have been better bedding into the under 23's first? Should he have been allowed an initial loan to adjust to his new surrounds? Was he really ready for first team action?

These are questions United must've pondered yet the handling of Grot from the outset has been difficult to justify.

Looking at his 6'4” stature it is easy to forget that he is a young man in a body that appears well beyond his years already.

Take any Championship defender and with a quick glance at the towering Dutchman they'd fear their task ahead, yet his play in a white shirt thus far has been anything but, and Leeds, although they may not publicly admit it, must take their share of the blame.

Former Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen instructs Jay-Roy Grot during a League Cup clash at Burnley.

Former Leeds United boss Thomas Christiansen instructs Jay-Roy Grot during a League Cup clash at Burnley.

The 20-year-old has taken criticism from all angles this season and much of it has been vented in frustration at disappointing results on the pitch.

Former Leeds boss Thomas Christiansen threw the youngster into the Championship limelight for ten minutes here and there as a last ditch attempt in the hope he may produce something out of nothing when things weren't going his sides way.

This would happen over and over again - 14 times to be exact.

It was a situation that would only see Grot's confidence plunge, criticism continue to mount and ultimately did nothing in the way of helping Leeds out of the hole they have found themselves countless times this season.

Cup appearances were sparse with starts at Burnley, Leicester City and Newport County with the latter being a day that everyone associated with Leeds United would rather forget.

Samuel Saiz took the headlines but one thing that escaped much attention was Christiansen's continuous insistence in throwing Grot into fixtures he clearly wasn't ready for.

It would culminate in Wales.

Low on confidence and experience against a side fighting for an FA Cup scalp on a pitch that was barely fit for use – Grot was a rabbit in the headlights with nowhere to go.

Since that fateful day the Dutchman has found a safe haven in United's under 23's bagging his first goal for the club at Elland Road against Huddersfield Town in mid-January.

Almost two months on and Grot appears to be playing with renewed confidence and vigour that is there for all to see.

A brace in United's 2-0 win at the KCOM on Saturday evening in the development league has only added to his resurgence and, his second goal in particular, suggests Leeds really do have a player there.

The Whites must now be careful in how they handle Grot's next move, a loan appears to make the most sense, but building confidence and experience in the under 23's isn't the worst option either.

Sam Byram, Alex Mowatt, Lewis Cook and Kalvin Phillips, to name just a few, have all cut their teeth at academy level in recent years and have appeared with added swagger in the first team ranks.

Swagger, after all, is something a striker of his stature desperately needs to succeed at Championship level and beyond.

Grot, though, needs to be afforded time to develop away from the limelight, not only for the good of himself but also for the good of Leeds United.

If the Whites are to get the best out of a talent that has been lauded as one of the most exciting prospects to come out of Dutch football in a long time then the next move is crucial.

A reintroduction to life in the Championship will be the long-term goal but patience will be required for him to find his feet and the right place to continue his development.

Be it a loan away from the club or continuous involvement at under 23 level, it may take a season or two.

Patience, ultimately, is what's required for both parties.

Unfortunately, though, that is something the Whites don't always have the luxury of allowing.