Throughout his career, Jack Grealish has become used to playing a waiting game and requiring strict levels of patience.
The Manchester City star, signed for £100million from Aston Villa during the summer transfer window in a record-breaking deal for British and Premier League football, extended his run of Premier League appearances without a goal to nine following Saturday's 3-1 victory over Watford.
After a few weeks on the sidelines through injury, the England international earned his first start in the Premier League since the 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at the end of October. Lining-up in an all-English front-three alongside Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden, there was anticipation that Grealish could rediscover his shooting boots and score just his third goal - or more - in City colours.
Despite his best efforts, the former Villa man boarded the bus back to Manchester still looking to score his first City goal since September. But it wasn't for a lack of trying. The City man hit the crossbar, headed straight at Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann when well placed and looked to apply the finishing touch to a weaving run that caused chaos inside the penalty area.
In the end, it wasn't Grealish's day. The goalscoring gods, unfortunately for him, were not shining down on him on an early-December evening in Hertfordshire.
Having, seemingly, tried everything to score his first away goal in City colours, Grealish, when withdrawn on 67 minutes and replaced by the returning Kevin De Bruyne, was bound to have been left thinking about what might have been. He was desperate to score and the disappointed figure he cut when taken off showed exactly that.
However, Grealish knows better than anyone that good things come to those who wait. He will, before too long, see his name up in lights and start to repay City with goals for the £100million they deposited into Villa's bank account for his services.
Pep Guardiola, too, is remaining upbeat about Grealish's chances of prospering in City colours.
"To score goals is the hardest thing in football," Guardiola said following the win over Watford. "The most important thing is we are playing really well and creating chances.
"Now the momentum is with Bernardo but another time it will be Jack, it will be Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez or another one.
"The most important thing is to be a stable team and we are playing with consistency.
"Jack knows it, he has to do better but sometimes you score goals with three actions, sometimes with 15 – it's football."
When reflecting on Grealish's career so far, it is important to remember just how far he has come in such a short space of time. Just eight years ago, the versatile attacker, who will be hoping to jet off to the 2022 FIFA World Cup with England in less than a year's time, was spending his Saturday afternoons trekking to the likes of Bradford City, Crewe Alexandra and Oldham Athletic during a loan spell in League One with Notts County.
From League One loanee to the Premier League's most expensive player of all-time in eight years; Grealish has done it the hard way.
As well as that, he knows the art of good, old fashioned hard graft. He has had to work tremendously hard to get himself into the position he is in today, even when he started to become a regular for Villa in the Premier League in the 2014/15 season. After two seasons of learning the Premier League way, Grealish then suffered relegation to the Championship with his boyhood club at the end of the 2015/16 season. Again, he was taking the long road to the top.
But after three seasons of applying his trade in the Championship, he and Villa rose again, returning to the top flight in 2019. His first season back in the Premier League saw him score eight goals and claim six assists, before scoring six goals and registering 12 assists the following season.
It was those figures, plus his all-round ability with the ball at his feet, that convinced City to part with £100million to sign him.
As well as playing a patient game at club-level, Grealish has also had to show the patience of a child counting down the days to Christmas on the international stage. At the 16th time of asking in an English shirt, Grealish finally ended his wait for an international goal, scoring in England's 5-0 win over Andorra in October.
Patience has been a common theme in Grealish's career. But more often than not the wait has been worth it. His time at City will come, and when it does he will make sure everybody knows about.
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