Breakthrough Player 2010/11
There’s a good chance the name ‘Robert Snodgrass’ triggers a memory for a large proportion of English football fans, any who witnessed Leeds’ fine run in the FA Cup last season or are fans of League One teams will have seen the promising young Scot in action.
However, after two seasons excelling in the third tier of English football Snodgrass’ breakthrough season may yet still lie ahead. His performances, for the large part have been overlooked, as frequently the headlines at Leeds have been dominated by the free-scoring Jermaine Beckford. Performing out of the limelight, Snodgrass has provided countless assists for former team-mate Beckford and has consistently been the teams’ most potent creative source.
Snodgrass celebrates scoring at Elland Road
Snodgrass made his name in Scottish football at Livingston, breaking into the first team aged 17. A Glaswegian childhood taught him the harsh realities of life and despite being touted by both Rangers and Celtic as a 12-year-old, he opted to join a much smaller club where his chances of succeeding where much greater.
After being a part of the Scottish under 19’s team that reached the final of the European Championships in 2006, there was reported interest from FC Barcelona of Spain. An offer of a trial with the Catalan club was not immediately accepted, and with his hesitancy the interest vanished quickly.
Despite a bright start to his Livingston career, manager at the time John Robertson felt Snodgrass lacked the right attitude and outcast him by shipping him out on loan to Second Division side Stirling Albion. Snodgrass declared that bereavements in his personal life had affected his mindset, but without a support system in place in Scotland, he struggled to cope with these difficulties.
On his return to Livingston, Snodgrass had a successful 2007-08 season and interest south of the border increased. It was fellow Scot, Gary McAllister that signed him for Leeds United in the summer of 2008.
His first season in England began well, but soon he found himself on the outskirts of the team, struggling to hold down a first-team place. However, a string of outstanding performances during a torrid run of games for the club, he established himself as a first choice selection. A matter of day’s later manager Gary McAllister was sacked, with Simon Grayson his replacement.
Grayson identified Snodgrass’ talent early on and he has become an almost ever-present in his side since. He finished the 2008-09 season superbly, contributing 11 goals and 16 assists.
It didn’t take long for the Elland Road faithful to take Snodgrass to heart, and he soon became a firm fans favourite. He displays a tremendous work ethic, a vital expectancy of passionate home fans; along side an all-round ability complemented by his ability to play in a number of positions. Predominantly utilised as a winger, Snodgrass can also operate in an attacking central midfield role or as a striker. He possesses an excellent left-foot with great close control and trickery; he also dribbles and crosses effectively, supplying frequent assists for his team-mates. He has the ability to score goals too, is a capable set-piece taker and a very determined team player.
A splendid performance against Liverpool in last seasons Carling Cup, terrorising full-back Andrea Dossena, coupled with his man-of-the-match display at White Hart Lane against Tottenham in the FA Cup, when playing behind lone striker Jermaine Beckford have helped to highlight his capabilities and displayed his versatility.
Causing problems against Liverpool in the Carling Cup
Following another successful season where he was instrumental in Leeds’ promotion to the Championship, Snodgrass will now have the opportunity to perform on a bigger stage in a highly competitive league. His raw talent will continue to flourish as he makes the step up, with Leeds looking for him to help them at least consolidate on their return to the Championship.
Snodgrass’ progression since joining Leeds hasn’t gone un-noticed within international quarters, with previous Scotland boss George Burley calling him up for a friendly against Japan in October 2009; unfortunately Snodgrass had to withdraw from the squad due to injury. It is extremely likely that a continuation of his developing talent over the coming season, will in time, lead to a full international cap for his country.
In a Leeds side that are willing to have a go this season, a team playing under no pressing expectations to win every week and ensure promotion, Snodgrass will expose defences not appropriately prepared for his threat. Grayson holds a Premier League star in the making, and this season can provide a breakthrough year for a player not concerned for hitting the headlines.
An injury picked-up during pre-season has thus far prevented Snodgrass from making an appearance in the Championship, but once fit, he is likely to be thrust into Grayson’s starting line-up. Whether he is selected in a wide role or behind a lone striker on his comeback, Snodgrass is sure to light up the Championship, turning more heads and reaping more plaudits along the way.
Snodgrass showing his appreciation to the Leeds fans