The Straw that Breaks the Camel’s Back?

Whether you like Bojan or not the recent breaking story and reaction from Hughes displays one thing and one thing only, a totally pathetic case of mismanagement. In February 2016 Bojan Krkic was handed a long term contract and in January 2017, 11 months later he looks set to leave the club. Irrelevant of your opinions about Bojan’s ability or Mark Hughes’, this is a categorical, unquestionable disaster. To award someone considered to be a key player a new contract and within 11 months have them locked out of the team and surplus to requirement is nothing short of disgraceful short-termism that is unacceptable in a Premier League side.

This is a worrying sign for everything that Hughes has attempted to turn Stoke City into. After completing his first year at the club Hughes sort to further the technical ability of the side, and what a way to do it. By bringing in an ex Barcelona player who had once been compared to Messi as he kept the likes of Henry and Ibrahimovic out of the Barcelona side for a measly 500,000 pounds what could go wrong? Fast forward two years and the side is regressing into one baring the marks of our former manager.

The comments from Hughes’ press conference earlier today are perhaps the most concerning words ever put to paper for fans of progressive football in North Staffordshire. And they confirm one thing; Mark Hughes lays the blame of the eight 4 goal defeats of 2016 at the feet of our best attacking players. To directly quote Hughes ‘On some days you can’t have all your technical players in the team, or else the balance will be wrong.’ For a man who in his last match was playing a striker at wing back, a right back at centre half and a winger at number 10 to discuss a lack of balance is laughable.

This press conference was about as negative as it could come for those who are fans of Bojan and the little Spaniard himself. Hughes suggested Bojan will get playing time and must remain patient, again this is a ludicrous statement which shows an embarrassing disparity in Hughes expectation for players. Bojan is the only Stoke player to score from the bench this season and is the second highest scorer in the league. The last time Bojan was given a run of 3 consecutive games in the side, he scored 2 goals and since then has only made back to back appearances once. There is little more that Bojan can do in his limited game time, yet a striker who before he started hadn’t scored in the league for 18 months was given a run of four games.

To suggest that not all our ‘technical’ (your guess is as good as mine for the meaning of this I’m fairly certain it’s a neutral term that can describe defending as well as attacking) players can be included is worrying. Every Premier League side that has ever had success has found a way to include all their attacking flair players. For Hughes to suggest we cannot include the tens of millions of pounds’ worth of talent all in the same side is petrifying and I would be shocked for it to go down well with Mr. Coates.

Many are suggesting that Bojan is being kept out the side due to the injury he suffered in his first year and this is just false. Since making his full return with a first start against Leicester Bojan went on a run of 17 consecutive starts. During this time he bagged 5 goals and an assist and the Potters won 9, drew 4 and lost 4. This is not the form of a man recovering from injury, the only person keeping Bojan out of the side is Hughes.

Bojan is not the only one to get this unfair treatment, Shaqiri has missed 3 out of the past 4 games, whilst Imbula is always the first to be blamed, and consequently lose his place in the side, for heavy defeats. Blaming midfielders and attackers for poor defensive performances is ludicrous but it is something that has become the norm with Hughes. It is well beyond the time for Hughes to take some blame for an atrocious 2016, caused predominately by his own awful tactics.

Within the space of 12 months Stoke have gone from playing the best footballer ever seen in North Staffordshire against the best teams in the league to a boring one dimensional approach that saw Stoke slip past one of the worse sides in the league. In doing so we have spent millions of Pounds on players who have clearly displayed their ability only to move to the bench.

If you believe that this short term thinking and excessive spending is acceptable then you are entitled to your own opinion, but let me remind you the Championship is littered with sides who have done the same. Bojan may or may not leave the club but the treatment of him seems to be the straw that has broken the Camel’s back for most fans.

Written by Tom Thrower

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