January was far from an enjoyable month for Stoke fans. A loss to Newcastle on New Year's Day was followed by an FA Cup Third Round exit at the hands of League Two's Coventry City.
Hours later Mark Hughes was shown the door after a four-and-a-half year spell at the Potters and incomer Paul Lambert watched from the stands as Stoke lost their next match 3-0 to Manchester United.
Their form has, since then, taken a turn for the better and Lambert has seen his side through a win over Huddersfield and a draw to Watford but the Potters still sit just one point above the relegation zone.
The deadline day capture of Senegalese midfielder Badou Ndiaye provided a further injection of optimism for Stoke fans, or so you would have thought.
Since announcing the £14m signing from Galatasaray on deadline day, fans have been lamenting a small but important detail.
Stoke City FC last night announced the shirt number of their most recent acquisition via social media and fans read between the lines and expressed their grief at the club's decision.
The number 27 was previously won by club favourite Bojan Krkić. The 27-year old product of La Masia, Barcelona's famed academy, is currently plying his trade back in his native country with Alavés.
It was recently reported that following the sacking of Mark Hughes the fan favourite wanted to cut his loan with Alavés short and return to the Bet365 arena for a fresh start.
Bojan 😢— ALISON THOMPSON (@THOMMO007) February 1, 2018
He’s coming home, he’s coming home, bojan’s coming ho.........eh?? what???— Graham Canning (@daddycanno) February 1, 2018
Clearest possible message to Bojan and his representatives to start looking for a permanent home away from here, can be interpreted no other way.— Russell Dutton 🇬🇧 (@RussellDutton) February 1, 2018
However, it looks increasingly likely that Stoke City fans are right to fear for the worst and the club have seemingly made a step in severing ties with the former fan favourite.
Hopefully Ndiaye will put some minds at rest and Potters fans will experience the emergence of a new fan favourite under the tutelage of Paul Lambert.