Opinion: Why this strange obsession with Jack Grealish has to end now
Can we please talk about something else?
Just like every Monday morning, my sleep deprived mind was searching for a story to kick-start my week and I briefly considered writing about those images of Jack Grealish drunk on his holiday in Tenerife.
I finally decided there was no way that I was going to write about Grealish doing his best Barney Gumble impression, but that didn't stop me from thinking about any potential headline that I would use.
— Briony King (@brionyking0913) June 14, 2015
'Teenager goes to Spain, has a few drinks and does exactly what most other teenagers do' seemed like a decent choice.
Or how about this? 'Teenager gets drunk on holiday. Bears still shit in the woods.'
The difference though is that Jack Grealish isn't just any other teenager. He may not be the Messiah, but this very naughty boy is being watched just as closely.
This fascination and public condemnation of the Aston Villa midfielder intrigues me because I found the reaction to the pictures much more interesting than the images themselves.
The moral outrage brigade brought out the tired argument that footballers are 'role models' and that they should always put their best foot forward.
This argument belongs in the stone-age along with Giovanni Trapatonni's tactics during Euro 2012.
Grealish is a teenager that made a mistake. Imagine being 19 and just coming off your breakthrough season as a Premier League footballer? I'd argue that very few people could stay on the straight and narrow.
Had he been falling out of a club on a Wednesday before a match then I would be the first person to say that he's guilty of showing a lack of professionalism but a certain degree of perspective is needed.
Football's history is littered with stories of young players making an arse out of themselves. There's nothing new here.
Some of the reaction saw moral outrage just for the sake of moral outrage. Yes, he should be aware that being a footballer is akin to the life of a goldfish but some perspective is needed, he's 19.
If you're getting paid good money then no professional athlete should treat their bodies with such disregard but it's not as if he's the first footballer to temporarily fall from grace.
Countless others have done it before and I'm certain that Aston Villa fans don't give a damn about his holiday antics if he shows up for pre-season training and continues to impress on the field.
How Grealish has been talked about in Ireland also intrigues me because I genuinely don't think that he has done much wrong when it comes to declaring where his international allegiance lies.
I actually have a certain degree of respect for him in terms of how he has handled the issue.
The last definite statement that he made on this issue was at the FAI awards when he said, "I spoke to Noel (King) at the start of everything and I said to Noel, 'this year I'm going to take a year out to concentrate on my club football.
"You know, it helped, I signed a new five-year contract. I've had a good, successful year. So, like I said, hopefully next year I'll be back in the green jersey."
Grealish's choice between England and Ireland is clearly an important one to him and I actually think that he has been quite clever on the issue. Don't people usually advise you to take some time when making an important decision and not to rush it?
International football isn't like the club game; you can't do an Anelka and pine for a move whenever your ego gets bruised, so he's 100% right to bide his time. If it's important then don't rush in.
If I was ever give the choice then it's easy, I'm Irish so I play for Ireland, but that's not the case here. It's more complex.
I'll also make a slightly tenuous argument - Aston Villa reaped the merits of a focused and fresh Grealish during the back end of last season.
I'm not saying that temporarily wiping his hands clean of making a decision between England and Ireland was the sole factor - Sherwood's arrival was - but it must have helped Villa's cause to have the midfielder focused on just one thing: Winning games.
It's also not his fault that certain people seem intent on drawing similarities between tweets he sends containing shamrock emojis with Padraig Pearse reading out the Proclamation.
Humbled to win Ireland u21 player of the year , another great achievement for me and my family ! ?? pic.twitter.com/EY1zg5VCXE
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish1) March 22, 2015
All of this excessive pressure on making him choose is meaningless. It's like a lad trying to chat-up a girl - the harder you chase, the more desperate you look.
Even if he does decide to wear the green jersey, it's very unlikely that all of our problems are going to be magically solved. We should know that.
Let him be in the meantime.