All eyes on Bojan at the Britannia
Mark Hughes has done a lot of things right since taking control of Stoke City. He had an unenviable task of replacing Tony Pulis and trying to change the ethos of football at the Britannia Stadium. It’s fair to say that Pulis’ Stoke only knew one way of playing; it was attritional and it was not easy on the eye.
August 11th, 2014
Hughes made the necessary changes with his coaching staff that he got the Potters to move the ball quickly. Their tendency to sit deep and invite teams into their half is gone. With a front three containing combinations of Peter Crouch, John Walters, Peter Odemwingie and the enigmatic Marko Arnautovic, who only got better as the season went on, Stoke were really finding their rhythm as the season drew to a conclusion.
The players were allowed to play, Hughes encouraged exciting, attacking play at the expense of the previously treasured clean sheets and the fans were rewarded with lots of goals. Games like January’s 3-5 defeat to Liverpool may become something more of a norm for the fans, and that will please those that have seen Hughes produce something close to the “perfect transfer window.”
Trouble positions such as full-back and midfield have been rectified with the signings of experienced Premier League campaigners Phil Bardsley and Steve Sidwell. However, it is the new arrivals up front that have got fans salivating.
Mame Biram Diouf has scored 20 league goals in the last two Bundesliga seasons and at 26, he is a different player from the youngster that struggled to settle in the Premier League. Pre-season suggestions are that he may just get the nod as Stoke’s leading man in the opening weeks of the season; and that’ll mean linking up with the marquee acquisition.
Bojan Krkic broke Lionel Messi’s record as Barcelona’s youngest ever player and burst onto the scene by reaching double figures in his debut season playing for the first team. The excitement has cooled somewhat in recent years and the now 23-year old has bounced around a string of Europe’s biggest names; Roma, Milan and Ajax.
He’s failed to set the world alight at any of the three clubs but few would argue that the technical ability has abandoned him. That’s what makes his arrival at Stoke so unbelievably exciting for the whole club, the fans and the local community.
The signs in pre-season have been very good. He’s scored goals, created chances and looked like a real coup for Mark Hughes. With Arnautovic now settled into the Stoke system and Mame Diouf racing ahead through the middle, Bojan could be the third piece in a strike force that does more than bloody a few noses this season.
The Spaniard was once the next great hope of Barcelona and their first team. He’ll be keen to get back to the very top of the game and the Champions League. A blistering couple of years with Stoke won’t do anyone any harm.