Much was expected of Jay-Roy Grot when the Dutch youngster signed for Leeds United from NEC Nijmegen. Sometimes expectation fails to deliver.
That’s pretty much the story of Jay-Roy Grot and his first season at Elland Road. The now 20-year-old cut an imposing figure upon arrival, looking a hulking unit hewn from Dutch-Surinamese granite. However, whilst appearing like the Hulk, many Leeds fans lambasted him for playing with a much less imposing presence.
His first season at Eland Road saw Grot make 22 appearances, the bulk as an oncoming substitute, scoring one goal and providing one assist. It was his general style of play though that grated with Leeds fans. Despite his physical attributes, Grot was too easily pushed off the ball by more savvy opponents and there were also accusations of a too laid back approach to his game.
Some fans were soon all over social media and on his back criticising his performances, some even going to the distasteful lengths and tagging him in the tweets they sent. With the arrival of Marcelo Bielsa, it soon became apparent that the Dutch youngster was not a part of the immediate first-team plans being put in place.
Grot found relief through the loan market, a return to the Dutch Eredivisie being put in place as the former Holland Under-19 international moved out for the season to VVV Venlo. After his loan move, Grot opened up about the problems and loneliness he felt as a youngster away from home and security for the first time in his fledgling career.
Now back on familiar ground, the goals started to flow in pre-season, admittedly against teams that could be classified as ‘minnows’. Yet, these goals still need to be scored and Grot was showing that he had brought his shooting boots with him.
He’s been a feature of the Venlo side this season, featuring in all their six games of the season, the first five of them as a right-winger. In his first five appearances, Grot has managed to gain 289 minutes of game time, starting four times, and completing just one full game – the 1-1 draw against Heerenveen.
Yesterday was his sixth appearance for Venlo, Grot featuring for 77 minutes in a 3-0 victory against lowly NAC Breda. It was also a game that he starred in before his substitution out – providing an assist (22′) for Jonathan Opoku’s opener and adding a goal (53′) to his Man-of-the-Match tally.
Grot is still a youngster, as a 20-year-old, a season out playing regular football in the top-tier of Dutch football will only see him add to his big-game experience. It was a tactic that proved successful for Polish midfielder Mateusz Klich, whose time at FC Utrecht last season saw him force himself back into the reckoning at Elland Road.
Should Grot continue to blossom as he has shown signs of doing, it makes for an interesting season of watching from afar by Leeds United fans. It could very well prove to be a season out of the club where Grot improves and returns the player whose expectations saw the Whites pay £1.4million for his services.