Proper soccer blog form suggests we start this type of post with an ironic “Remember [this player],” but none of us have forgotten about Bojan Krkić, the Serbian-Spaniard attacker who was once the subject of a low-level tug-of-war between the two countries. Like most other aspects of Krkić’s career, that was unfairly overhyped, with the Linyola-born Barcelona trainee never intending to play for anybody but La Roja. His only cap came in 2008, as a 17-year-old.
Since, Krkić, who some have honored with a single-name reference (Bojan), has spent time at Roma, Milan, Ajax, and now Stoke City, where he resurfaced in today’s first half at White Hart Lane. Less than six minutes in, Krkić simultaneously took advantage of one of the perks of Premier League play (time to turn on the ball in transition) while nearly being exposed to one of its major drawbacks (a near-excessive tackle at play’s end). Ultimately, the now-24-year-old beat Hugo Lloris from beyond the box, giving the Potters a surprise lead at Tottenham:
The lead was a surprise if you’re all into history and stuff. Stoke had only won two previous trips to White Hart Lane. On form, however, the edge was far less shocking. Tottenham is in the process of curbing any momentum Mauricio Pochettino’s career carried north from Southampton, and Stoke continues to make the incremental progress it imagined when it jettisoned Tony Pulis for Mark Hughes. These two ships aren’t passing in the night as much as they’re caught in different currents in the stark light of the season’s opening months.
And yes, it is still the opening months. Before we draw broad conclusions, we should wait out the winter slog. Still, as Jonathan Walters doubled Stoke’s lead and Kyle Naughton was sent off during Spurs’ late charge, the eery feeling that’s built around Pochettino since the season’s opening moments has become more present. This doesn’t feel like a good fit. This feels like a young coach made headstrong by his early successes demanding his players fit to his approach. Sometimes, that works, but more often a coach’s versatility is one of his best virtues. It rarely works to stare at an egg and hope it becomes a biscuit.
On talent, there’s little reason why Stoke should have taken the club’s third victory at White Hart Lane, but variance is a thing, as are small samples. Even after Boxing Day, we still may not have seen enough soccer from this Spurs squad to know what Pochettino can do with it.
Regardless, he’s not doing enough with it now. Spurs have already lost four games at home this season.