United have announced their third signing of the summer with the arrival of 35-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant from Stoke City. Something of a surprise; the conventional thinking is that the player has been signed as a third choice back up with a view to allowing Joel Pereira, a promising 19-year-old to get some experience via a loan period at another club.
Not to be disrespectful but the term “journey-man” could have been invented for Grant. He started his career as a youth player at Watford before enjoying a career in the lower leagues at Derby County with loan spells at Burnley and Oldham Athletic, then he moved to Sheffield Wednesday in 2007. He stayed at Hillsborough for three seasons and made 145 appearances for the club in a spell when they were playing at Championship level. He then moved to Burnley, another Championship club for three years before re-signing for Derby in 2013. Again he stayed at this club for three season and again the whole of that time he was playing his football at Championship level. In this second spell at Derby he worked with one of our old friends ex-United goalkeeping coach Eric Steele who was full of praise for the player. Who knows whether Steele has influenced United’s decision to move for the player?
In August 2016 Grant got the chance to play at a higher level joining Stoke City in the Premier League, initially on a six month loan deal as cover for the injured Jack Butland. Grant did so well, including one excellent performance as Stoke grabbed a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford that Stoke made this move permanent in January 2017. The player has given other accomplished displays against United since then and has been a key part of Stoke’s excellent record against us over the last couple of years.
He has obviously made an impression and there is something satisfying about seeing a player work hard through his career and earn just reward with a permanent move to a club operating at the top level. He might not play that often for our first team but there is talk of a move onto the coaching staff at Old Trafford in a couple of years.
Lee Grant, welcome to Old Trafford.