KENWYNE Jones needed to deliver the goods to match his words after talking so candidly about Stoke City’s changing philosophies this season.
He was just establishing himself as Stoke’s number one striker for the first time since Peter Crouch joined the club when he was chosen to front a community visit to Newstead Primary School, in Blurton, back in September.
The Trinidad and Tobago captain, who had started the previous four games, played basketball with the kids ... then spoke openly about how he thought Tony Pulis’s “hit and hope sky football” had been holding him and the side back.
Jones, who rubber-stamped a move to Cardiff City today, said he felt liberated by Pulis’s departure, but could not then back that up with goals in the Premier League under Mark Hughes.
Now 29, he has not scored in his past 21 games in the top flight.
He has never scored in 31 league sub appearances and – after again falling firmly behind Crouch in the pecking order – Hughes must have wondered if he was suitable for a main task of being a game changer from the bench.
Either way, his place in the squad became untenable when he made himself unavailable to play against Liverpool earlier this month.
It gave a whole new meaning to his tag-line of being “unplayable on his day”.
“For the dumb ones out there, I was never on strike,” he later wrote on Twitter as he left the Potteries, without filling in any of the obvious blanks.
In fact his exit had seemed on the cards at the start of last season when there were rumours of £5m bids from Turkey.
And at the end of the campaign it looked like his time was up when he was dropped from the squad to take on Southampton after a changing room prank gone wrong involving a pig’s head and smashed car windscreen.
Yet the turbulence of his long farewell is at odds to his first year at the Brit after re-joining for a club record, and complicated, £8m package from Sunderland.
He had given a glimpse of his natural powers as a 20-year-old on loan from Southampton under Pulis in 2005, having spent most of youth career as a defender or defensive midfielder.
And, upon his return, he had bulked into a beast of a front man who linked up superbly with Jon Walters, Jermaine Pennant and Matthew Etherington to back flip all the way to the 2011 FA Cup final.
“We have had all these stories about us being underdogs, boring, not so good and whatever,” he told The Sentinel as he tried to pinpoint the secret of that success.
“But we have the sort of club where everyone helps out. Everyone works hard and everyone goes out there and works for each other.”
Jones was the spearhead as Stoke ventured into the Europa League at the start of his second season, but then came Crouch, taking his record-signing tag and his regular slot in the traditional number nine slot.
He had scored 10 league goals in the 13 months before Crouch’s arrival ... and would only score three in the two-and-a-half years after – all in a single fortnight while Crouch was sidelined with a facial injury in December 2012.
The two strikers will now finally have a chance to get on the pitch at the same time ... when Stoke take on Cardiff on April 19.
KENWYNE JONES'S PREMIER LEAGUE STATISTICS AT STOKE CITY
2010/11: 33 (+1 sub) apps, nine goals
2011/12: 10 (+11) apps, one goal
2012/13: 10 (+16) apps, three goals
2013/14: Four (+3) apps, no goals