Premier League

Why It’s Not Time To Give Up On Berahino

 • by Dan Ludlam
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When goal-starved Saido Berahino stepped up to take his first-half penalty against Southampton on Saturday, you could feel the anxiety in the air among the Stoke City supporters.

Having joined the Potters in January in a multi-million pound switch from midlands rivals West Bromwich Albion, the 24-year-old is still searching for that elusive first goal in red and white.

Berahino was presented with the perfect opportunity to break his duck against the Saints but Fraser Forster was on hand to deny the striker, who extended his run without a Premier League goal to an astounding 32 matches.

But even the greats of years gone by have had their struggles.

Indeed, the Premier League’s all-time record goalscorer Alan Shearer has endured barren spells, particularly at international level when he went 12 games without a goal for England back in 1996.

Rather ironically, Stoke’s eventual match-winner in Saturday’s victory, Peter Crouch, knows all about the pressures of breaking his duck with a new club too.

The former Liverpool frontman took 19 games to net his first for the Reds back in 2005, before finishing with an FA Cup winners medal and 13 goals to his name by the end of that particular season.

It takes a great deal of mental strength to pluck up the courage and jump in front of regular penalty-taker Xherdan Shaqiri and for that Berahino deserves the upmost credit.

The look of despair once Forster had pawed away his spot kick shows just how desperate the former England youth international is to kick-start his career at the Bet365 Stadium.

One thing that is often overlooked when a striker endures a goalless spell is the impact that a manager can have in galvanising the player and retaining faith in his ability.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes paid homage to Berahino’s natural instincts in stealing the ball away from Shaqiri’s grasp and shouldering the responsibility against the Saints.

Had the result been different, perhaps Hughes may not have been so understanding but the Welshman is well aware of the position Berahino currently finds himself in.

After all, Hughes wouldn’t have sanctioned the £12m transfer for the former West Brom striker had he not believed in his capability.

“Fair play to him, he showed personality and responsibility grabbing the ball and we are all willing him to score,” Hughes revealed.

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“He’s working hard. He’s just trying to get a break and once that comes he’ll be off and running.

“At the moment, that initial goal for us is proving to be that little bit elusive for him unfortunately.”

As so often has happened in the past, Berahino’s eventual opening goal for Stoke may come in rather unforeseen circumstances.

A deflection; one off the shin – they all count. And the 24-year-old will greatly receive any good fortune on his way to opening his account for the Potters.

“It will be something out of nothing,” Hughes added.

“It will hit his shin, knee, backside, who knows. But when it comes it will certainly get him off an running I’m sure.”

Hughes, seemingly, is keen to retain faith in Berahino, who has featured in five of Stoke’s matches so far this season.

Crouch’s impact off the bench against Southampton will likely divide opinion among Potters fans, who may point to the former England striker’s eye for goal as a key to him earning a regular starting spot.

Berahino’s luck will surely change sooner rather than later, but with the Premier League proving notoriously unforgiving at times, he will know better than anybody that his goal drought must end soon.

The striker clearly still has his manager on side but supporters will be far less understanding should Berahino’s barren spell extend much further beyond 32 matches.

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