Armando Broja scored in his very first start of the season, away to Fulham in early October. It’s taken him three months to find the back of the net again for his second.
Now, granted, this was only his fifth start since that first goal, along with frequent but short substitute appearances, but with Nicolas Jackson gone to the Africa Cup of Nations and Christopher Nkunku expected to miss a “few” games with a new injury, Broja will need to step up and take advantage of these minutes (probably) coming his way.
Head coach Mauricio Pochettino laid down precisely that challenge for the 22-year-old after last night’s game, hinting that what’s holding back Broja may be as much mental as anything else.
“It’s really important for him [but] he needs to use this type of game to improve. Not only in his fitness or his capacity for work ethic, he needs to step up and move forward and smile more and be more positive in the way he needs to improve in his game. The potential is amazing, we are talking about a young striker here in England or Europe, with one of the most potential. He needs to push himself, and we are going to try to help, to realise it’s never enough and work really hard.
“By the way, he has suffered in the past a big injury, nearly one year away and now needs time. It’s not easy for him to perform or to be at the level that we expect. Our expectation is massive and we really need him and will push him.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
It is true that Broja’s ACL was still just a year ago, and even these days with modern surgical and rehabilitation techniques, full recovery can extend well beyond that length of time — especially if we talk about the mental side of recovering from a major injury and being able to “trust” your own body fully again.
But it sounds like Broja’s also putting a bit too much pressure on himself (and/or letting that pressure get to him). And that can be an even trickier thing to deal with.
“A little bit [of relief]. Coming off the bench and playing a few games and not scoring is not easy. I’m really excited and happy I could get that goal today. Hopefully there’s many more in the future.
“Moments like that is what makes you happy and puts a smile on your face. A lot of people don’t see the down days. There’s a lot of pressure on your shoulders when you’re expected to score every game. I try to leave the down days past me and look ahead to the good days. Today was one of those better days.”
-Armando Broja; source: BBC
Here’s to many more good days than bad days.