Tyler Roberts was under some pressure on Tuesday night pressure he really shouldn’t have been under. Leeds United fans can eat up a player quicker than most clubs could, players are broken under the watchful gaze of a passionate and partisan crowd, but adapting to giving a chance, giving time has to be the way.
Roberts missed his chances on Saturday afternoon and he was hounded by small sections of the fans. At half-time on Tuesday there was rife chatter amongst some of the watching crowd that he wasn’t going to cope at Leeds United. A 19-year-old who has started just one game as a striker with the club, and was now halfway through his second. A player who had been out for nine months before trying to get back into the swing of things in the League Cup playing as a right-winger. The second half changed everything for the player.
Leeds United can break players, the weight of expectation on the shoulders of experienced professionals and young players has often been far too much for footballers, but many aren’t given a hope after a short period of time. I was personally disappointed with some of the reaction regarding Roberts after the Millwall game. I saw tweets that went as far as saying, “will Tyler Roberts ever play for Leeds again after this?”. What an overreaction to a performance that was just lacking in the finishing. Another issue on Tuesday night was fans labelling him lazy. He wasn’t lazy at all. He was trying to catch up with the pace of a first-team going at 100mph.
The two goals were exactly what he needed to give him a much better chance. We’ve seen strikers come and score on debuts, score in the first few games and crumble and we’ve seen strikers struggle in the beginning before turning into prolific forwards at the club, look no further than Chris Wood and Ross McCormack. If Marcelo Bielsa thinks Roberts has played well then that’s good enough for most. Of course everyone has an individual opinion, it’s needed in football, but we have to let players grow into the football club before we judge them.