Benteke & Collymore - Similarities at Liverpool

Benteke & Collymore - Similarities at Liverpool

Paul Tompkins on his Tompkins Times, Liverpool devoted website does a very interesting analytical thing. He re-bases transfer cost to factor in inflation, so you can hypothetically ask “how much is the £8.5m LFC paid for Stan Collymore in 1995, equivalent to in today’s prices?” The answer the database churns out is the £8.5m is equivalent to £38m in today’s money. Collymore and Benteke at £32.5m effectively cost very similar fees.

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They are also suffering the same problem, in his pomp at Nottingham Forest, Collymore scored 41 goals in 65 appearances, Benteke at Aston Villa scored 42 goals in 89 games a very similar number. Both had teams that functioned almost entirely around them as Strikers, Collymore at Forest and Benteke at Villa. The game plan was almost entirely centred on the attributes of the front man. Some in football use the analogy of being a big fish in a small pond that doesn’t fare so well when it is dropped in the ocean.

True football intelligence is being able to adapt and neither Collymore or Benteke were or have been able to do so at Anfield.

Benteke’s form and confidence has dropped off a cliff, since his transfer to Liverpool (in June 2015), his scoring rate dropping to 8 in 31 games (admittedly many as Sub.) Benteke like Collymore has struggled to adapt to the system of play at Anfield, he looks bereft of confidence and seems to miss very easy chances. Collymore suffered a similar problem with Roy Evans’ team trying to accommodate him Fowler and McManaman in an offensive three.

Both players appear mentally fragile, Collymore has admirably been very open about his depression and anxiety issues, Benteke exhibits a similar sullen demeanour. One would think with Benteke’s compatriot and pal Romelu Lukaku having an outstanding season across Stanley Park, Benteke would be fired up to try and get selected for the Euro’s in an exciting Belgium team.

Benteke is recovering from an achilles injury which has shorn him of his pace and consequently knocked his confidence sideways. Collymore scored 28 in 64 games in the red of Liverpool, but much to the clubs annoyance still lived in Stafford commuting 1.5 hours to training each way daily. This is oft cited as one of the reasons why, what was a record breaking £8.5m transfer of Collymore never really came to fruition. It never fired on all cylinders much like Benteke in the present season.

Benteke similarly seems either unable or unwilling to put the hard yards in to be a success at Anfield. Departing manager Brendan Rodgers used the term “weight of the shirt” when describing why the £20m signing of Stewart Downing failed at Anfield. There seems an element of that in Collymore, Benteke, and even players like the £10m Ryan Babel during Rafa’s reign. The four of them Collymore, Babel, Downing and Benteke would have to be labelled mentally fragile or devoid of the necessary competitive drive to do justice to their talents in the manner in which Ronaldo for instance did at United.

Aston Villa may be pilloried but in Downing and Benteke they have banked £52.5m on two players that just haven’t delivered for LFC.

Liverpool had employed the eminent sports psychologist Dr Steve Peters under Brendan Rodgers reign but he was unable to have the desired effect on players like Stewart Downing. The phrase Jurgen Klopp used is the most apt phrase “from doubters to believers” but shedding the mental fragility Benteke and Collymore before him exhibits is a very difficult thing to do. It becomes self-fulfilling, you are benched and you retract into your shell further, with more self doubt.

Only very mentally strong players like John Barnes and Alan Shearer have been able to come back from a debilitating injury and perform just as well or better than before. There is a succession of players like Eduardo, Michael Owen, Jonathan Woodgate, Djibril Cisse who never recaptured their pre-injury form and appetite for the game, and Benteke seems to fall into this category.

Collymore was subsequently sold to Aston Villa for £7m and Liverpool would do very well to recoup a similar 82% of the £32.5m Benteke fee.

As a fan it is sad to watch the demise of Christian Benteke at Liverpool (50 Premier Lge goals in 100 Premier Lge games-same as Giroud and quicker than Robin Van Persie).

The waste of talent of a Collymore, a Mario Balotelli, Ryan Babel, Hatem Ben Arfa, who quite clearly have the talent but just cannot put it on the football field on a regular enough basis, largely due to their fragile mentalities, is a very sad and wistful thing to watch.