Second chances in life are often moments you have to seize, or you may not be given another chance. The same can be said in football. If a player is given a second chance, they have to run with it or they’ll most likely find themselves on the outside looking in to a starting position. The latter is where center-back Aden Flint finds himself right now.
Coming out of Stoke City’s loss to Watford over a week ago, the team needed an incentive given their lack of fight late in the match. That motivation boost came in the form of Alex Neil benching Aden Flint and going to 40 year old Phil Jagielka.
The message from Neil to the team was clear with the Flint benching: play hard and well for 90 minutes or you’re going to find yourself on the bench. And so far, that message and move has been a great one for Stoke City.
As a team The Potters have shown continual fight since the Watford match, and they’ve only allowed two goals in two matches. The cherry on top with Neil making the switch from Flint to Jagielka, is seeing Jagielka contribute both a goal and an assist against Sheffield United.
Unfortunately for Flint, all of this has come at his expense. The towering English center-back has not seen any minutes since the team’s Watford defeat.
Aden Flint, Odd Man Out?
Will Aden Flint be given a second chance to start? The simple answer is, yes he will. But how he will be given that second chance remains somewhat undetermined.
In the very short-term it appears Flint is the odd man out among defenders at the moment. Back-to-back matches of Flint being named to the bench isn’t a case of rotation from Neil. After all, starting lineup rotation would have meant a start for Flint over the weekend.
To be fair, it could have been a case of tactical matchups looking better for Stoke City with Flint out of the starting XI once again. But most likely it was still a case of Flint being on Neil’s bad list.
So in the very short-term, it appears Flint will have to wait his turn to get back on Neil’s good list. The key words being “very short term” as these situations have a tendency to work themselves out normally in sports.
Whether it be an injury or someone else falling out of form, Flint will get his chance off the back of someone else. That time could somehow come this week, next week, or even in three months. But it will eventually come and Flint will need to seize his second chance.
What Flint Needs to Do When He Does Get His Next Chance
When that next chance does come for Flint, he’ll have to show more fight and consistency for 90 minutes. It was just one match, but Stoke City have to win now. Which is why for Flint even one performance that shows inconsistencies and a willingness to fade away isn’t good enough.
Flint will also need to get back to using his size box-to-box to impose himself in matches. Whether it be defensively clearing his lines in Stoke’s 18-yard box or trying to bury a header in Stoke’s opposition 18-yard box – he’ll need to be better there.
At the end of the day, that’s the main reason why Flint was benched. Flint just wasn’t good enough against Watford all around. He’ll have to get back to his old ways if he wants to stick in Stoke City’s starting XI when he does get his next chance.
A next chance that could provide Stoke City a major boost considering Flint prior to seeing more of the bench, was one of Stoke City’s xG (expected goal) leaders.