Armando Broja is a player I have always appreciated and have rated, even when he was in the academy.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always seen elements of his game that needs to improve, and those elements are still there. It’s always been about development and kicking on, and at the moment he is not doing that.
We do need to factor in his big injury, but there also seems to be a bigger problem now hindering him, and that is mindset and confidence.
Some players are confidence players, and it looks like Broja is one of them. He seems to be beating himself up and getting angry on the pitch when things aren’t going well or he gets a decision given against him. And Mauricio Pochettino has even pointed this out at the weekend.
After Broja scored against Preston on Saturday, Pochettino said:
“It’s really important for him but I need to be honest, I think he needs to use this kind of game to score a goal and feel the net and to improve. Improve not only in his fitness or his capacity for work ethic, but in his body language also. He needs to step up and go forward, smile and be a little bit more positive.”
And this is what I love about Poch, his man-management. He is spot on here, and this needed to be said.
Broja has responded to it positively as well, and he agrees with the manager.
To those words from Poch, Broja responded:
“I’ve had many conversations with the manager.
“I felt I was going through quite a difficult period coming back from my injury. Being out of the team for so long and not being involved, you could say I felt down with everything that was going on.”
“Once I came back, I was feeling much more like myself. I still feel like there is much more to come from me. And, as the gaffer says, I can get my body language more positive.
“I am a bit harsh on myself at times. That’s because I expect a lot from myself and I know what I am capable of. The manager is just trying to take that weight off my shoulders and loosen myself up that little bit.
“I’m trying to take that advice on board because he has been helping me every day. I just need to smile more and be a bit more positive.”
Again, this is all spot on and positive that they’ve both got those feelings off their chests and out there.
It’s clear Broja has been suffering a bit mentally since coming back from his injury, and he is also clearly feeling the pressures of playing up top for Chelsea.
Broja continued: “When you go on a run where you are not scoring much, you can get a bit down. It’s not the greatest feeling, but getting a goal in a game like this [Preston] makes up for it.
“Of course, it was a big one for myself and for the game as well. It was great work from Misha (Mykhailo Mudryk) to play to Malo (Gusto) and a great delivery from Malo. I just tried to get my head on it and it wasn’t a bad header.
“It is our job – we get paid to score goals. It’s what everyone sees as a striker, someone who scores goals. It is difficult because everyone expects you to score every game but there have been great players who have not done that.
“The result comes first but personally I love to score goals. I’m a striker; it’s something that I love doing.”
And again, he’s right, he’s a striker, and a striker must score goals. The pressure is always going to be much bigger at Chelsea as well – time does not wait for Chelsea.
In the modern day as well, you see players on their phones all the time, before and after games in the dressing rooms, and just all the time. They are going to see criticism and abuse, naturally. Some players it will effect, others not so much.
Broja clearly sees the criticisms of late, you can tell that with some of his posts on Instagram asking for patience etc. But this is all part of being a modern day footballer and it will never disappear, it’s all part of it now and there is only ever going to be one way to respond to critics, with your feet on the pitch – prove them all wrong.
I’ll end this by going back to my opening points – I rate Broja, but I just don’t think he’s developing yet to where he needs to be and he is yet to improve on the elements that he lacks. Can he get there? Of course he can, he’s still only 22-years-old (recently).
He needs to improve his holdup play first and foremost because he is 6ft 3in tall and a physical guy, yet he lacks a touch and the ball doesn’t often stick to him as it should do. He also needs to get his head up and drop the ball off a little earlier at times.
I think if he can perfect that side of his game then he can be a top striker, and the irony of course is he is exactly the kind of frame that we need and the kind of physical presence that Pochettino loves. He could be a perfect Pochettino striker if he imposes his presence more and gets better in the air as well as back to goal.
We know he can score goals, and that bit for me is confidence more than anything else. But if he can get better with some of his decision making and back to goal play, then I still think he can be a good striker.
Will that be at Chelsea? Well, that all depends on the next couple of weeks in my opinion. But I’m keeping the faith in Broja because he is a player I’ve watched a lot through the ranks at Cobham and I do see potential. But the question mark is whether he can develop and turn that potential into consistency and a more well-rounded striker who plays with confidence.