Jack Grealish, the young player many Aston Villa fans are relying on to fire us out of the poor form we’ve found ourselves in and hopefully even take us further in the future, is in the papers again – and for the wrong reasons.

Mike Keegan of ‘The Daily Mail’ reported that, after the Ipswich Town game last Saturday, Jack Grealish and his friends were partying in a Birmingham hotel until the early hours of the morning, disturbing other guests. According to Mike Keegan, the room was littered with nitrous oxide canisters and balloons, colourfully described in the article as “hippy crack”.

Now, before we let language get the better of us, there is nothing crack-like about nitrous oxide. It is used to dispense whipped cream and the majority of us have some form of it in our homes. However, that doesn’t reduce the seriousness of a professional footballer acting unprofessionally, even if there is no proof in Mike Keegan’s article to suggest Grealish actually inhaled the substance.

I’m rooting for Jack. I see his quality. I also see a twenty-one-year-old who wants to have a good time and to unwind with his mates. There is a time and a place for this, I’m afraid. Signing a professional contract with a football club doesn’t just legally bind a player to that football club, it binds him to a relationship with the fans, club staff and management. With these parties and the associated negative press, Grealish is letting all of those people down. The priority for Aston Villa Football Club, a club that Jack Grealish embodies thanks to his rapid climb through the youth academy, is to win games of football, move up the table and get promoted. In my opinion, no player can be on top of his game if he’s partying late into the night.

While Jack Grealish scrolls through his Instagram feed, liking videos of Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo strutting their stuff on the pitch, he has to understand the sacrifice he has to make to get within touching distance of their places in world football. That doesn’t involve late night parties; that involves countless hours on a training pitch, early nights and a PS4 to keep boredom at bay.

Despite his mistakes, we need to back Jack. Like Mike Keegan (who will probably be waiting a little longer for a Pulitzer prize) stated, there is no evidence of Grealish inhaling the gas and the player himself has denied doing so. Grealish is a young player who needs to grow up fast. He holds a special position at a huge club, something that many players with more talent than him have had before, and he is at risk of throwing that away.

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