Red Letter: Liverpool should cut losses on Benteke

Date published: Thursday 7th January 2016 11:24

Christian Benteke: Considering his future at Anfield.

Christian Benteke: Considering his future at Anfield.

In his weekly Liverpool blog, Dave Tindall ponders Jurgen Klopp’s £32.5m striker ‘problem’ Christian Benteke and has a word of sympathy for ousted Real Madrid manager Rafael Benitez.

Joy and despair normally take turns when it comes to writing this column.

One week, I’m patting on us the back, saying all looks rosy; the next, I’m reflecting on a lame and woeful defeat.

This week, after a miserable loss to West Ham and a heartening Capital One Cup victory over Stoke, it’s a bit of both as the emotions of a Liverpool fan continue to oscillate wildly.

The contrasts have been stark:

Daytime defeat (West Ham) against night-time victory (Stoke)

Anger (Klopp post-match on Saturday) and delight (Klopp post-match on Tuesday)

Slow start (Upton Park) v Fast start (Britannia)

There’s also another comparison that jumps out…….

Benteke starting v Benteke on the bench

The difference between the two performances was astonishing and, for me and many other Liverpool fans, it’s glaringly obvious to pinpoint the chief factor. And, regretfully, given how much we forked out for him, the torch needs to be shone on our £32.5m striker.

Christian Benteke: Failed to impress in Liverpool's defeat at West Ham

Christian Benteke’s lack of movement in the defeat to West Ham stood out like a sore thumb. He was lethargic on the ground and bullied out of it in the air (he won just three of 12 aerial duels).

Of course, he doesn’t intend to play this way but, as was the case with Mario Balotelli (yes, I’m that annoyed, I’m comparing Benteke to the Italian flop), his lack of mobility and air of half-heartedness spreads throughout the team like a virus.

With the focal point static, opposition defenders have an easy target. Compare that to the alternative when Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana are zipping around at all sorts of angles, pulling centre-backs out of position and generally creating headaches.

The energy and fluidity of those front three sets the stage for Klopp’s gegenpressing and, when the midfielders join in (how good was Joe Allen against Stoke?!), Liverpool can hunt in packs and win the ball high up the pitch. We saw it numerous times in the 4-1 win at Man City and it worked a treat early on at the Britannia, allowing us to grab the all-important first goal.

There is an obvious case for the defence when it comes to Benteke. Take a look at Liverpool’s results this season and three times he’s scored the winner in a 1-0 success. Turning draws into wins means that’s six points right there the big Belgian has contributed.

My argument would be that, had he not been playing, who’s to say we wouldn’t have won these games more easily? It simply isn’t a coincidence that he played only the final 13 minutes in the 4-1 win at City and didn’t leave the bench in the 6-1 triumph at Southampton.

He was also absent from the 3-2 win over Aston Villa while he was a 64th-minute sub in the 3-1 win at Chelsea. The four games I’ve mentioned are the only matches in which we’ve scored three or more times in a match this season and Benteke didn’t start any of them. Okay, he got the third at Stamford Bridge, but we were leading and controlling the match already.

Benteke doesn’t fit in

Quite simply, Benteke doesn’t fit in. Klopp wants fast, loud, heavy metal football, but the only headbanging being done when our No.9 is labouring around is Liverpool fans butting walls and palms.

It’s stupid to write him off as a poor player (seven goals in 22 matches for us so far certainly beats Balotelli’s pathetic return of 1 in 16 Premier League games) but, as was the case with Andy Carroll, he doesn’t fit our system. Benteke is a square peg in a round hole.

The logical conclusion to this argument is should we cut our losses and sell him in the transfer window?

I very much doubt this will happen, but if Klopp could line up a replacement (going back to Dortmund for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would be rather nice), I’d shake Benteke by the hand, say sorry it didn’t work out and wave him on his way.

Benteke is still relatively young at 25 but, even at that age, you can’t just change styles however many ‘man conversations’ you have with your manager. Benteke is what he is and, I’m afraid, he’s cramping our style.

If you think my criticism of Benteke is all incredibly unfair, let’s talk about a proper injustice.

Sticking up for Rafa

A quiz question: Has there ever been a manager sacked after his side had won their previous four home games 3-1, 10-2, 8-0 and 4-1? That’s a combined 25-3 at an average goals per game of 6.25.

If you want more context, the team in question, Real Madrid, have scored more goals in their last four home games than Liverpool have managed in 20 Premier League games this season – 22 v 25.

And yet, despite those stats, Rafa Benitez was unceremoniously given the boot from the Bernabeu this week.

What was his crime? Not telling Cristiano Ronaldo what a clever boy he was every five minutes? By the way, how much make-up is Ronaldo wearing these days?

Rafael Benitez Karim Benzema Real Madrid TEAMtalk

I’ve read this week the usual rubbish about Benitez being a poor manager, one of the negatives his failure to win the Premier League despite the riches of Alonso, Mascherano and Torres at his disposal.

Firstly, he signed all those players and, secondly, Liverpool got 86pts when runners-up in 2009 (Man City won the title with that same tally two years ago….. as we, painfully, know). We lost just twice in 38 games that season.

There’s also the little matter of two Champions League finals in three years and making us officially the top ranked club in Europe following, ironically enough, a 1-0 win away to Real Madrid. Yep, Rafa was no good at all, was he.

With all the politics going on at Real Madrid, he’s probably best off out of it anyway.

Injury woes

Rather than dwelling on seasons past or even just Tuesday’s win at Stoke, of more pressing importance is Liverpool’s horrendous injury list.

Two more were added to the wounded pile on at the Britannia as Coutinho and Lovren both had to be taken off early.

The situation at centre-back is getting ridiculous and I’m still not quite sure how we emerged with a clean sheet with Kolo Toure (also limping at the end) and Lucas playing there.

Goodness knows who we play in central defence away to Exeter in the FA Cup on Friday night. What’s Alan Hansen doing these days? Could Klopp reprise King Kenny’s player-manager role and have a go. He’d certainly be good at organising his defence and shouting at those around him.

Oh, hang on, I’ve got a solution. It’s a bit left-field but he’s a muscular presence and usually excellent in the air.

Go on Jurgen, I dare you….. give Benteke a game there!

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Home Forums Red Letter: Liverpool should cut losses on Benteke

This topic contains 17 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Silk 1 year ago.

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    James Marshment

    In his weekly Liverpool blog, Dave Tindall ponders the £32.5m ‘problem’ Christian Benteke and has a word of sympathy for Rafael Benitez.

    [See the full post at: Red Letter: Liverpool should cut losses on Benteke]



    Once again Tindall goes postal, I’ve never witnessed a column that has as many ups and downs, just a few weeks ago Liverpool were destined for the title, I’m pretty sure that he thought Benteke would turn into a world beater just by wearing the red shirt.

    Instead of taking his transfer at face value as a sound plan b kind of striker that could perhaps work on his game and become a better striker over time.

    If these kind of idiots had their say on club affairs the club would be in the non-league after a few years.



    Give it a rest mate. A striker who’s scored the most goals for us should be sold? Is Benteke the only player under performing?



    Don’t agree at all with this nonsense article.
    You don’t sell a 24yr old 1 in 2 striker after 5 months because he’s struggled a bit in a new team.
    A ridiculous concept.



    Criticism is one thing and a ‘throw-away’ comment like 32 million down the drain is another, but to seriously turn your back on him I think is unfair.

    Let’s try and work constructively to develop and reignite him into delivering for us, and being happy in his position.



    You’ll never walk alone….amirite?

    Seriously though, the lad is a proven goal scorer and one of few who can score goals for Liverpool right now. He’s being asked to play a different type of game than he’s used to. It will take some time. The fact that he is still scoring while adapting to this change should be seen as a positive, not a negative. Some on here need to get a grip!


    Sean the sailor

    one thing i agree with his bentekes half hearted apporach. He is not putting in the effort like he did at villa. To sell him would be just silly. How does Lackau play in a footballing side? Benteke is similiar to him. He is a lot faster then people think. He can score gaols.He just needs to start being much more physical and put his heart and soul into it. Lets give him and firminio a bit of a break and give them more time and support



    Benteke looks annoyed. When Liverpool don’t perform, Benteke is usually the one pulled from the side and Klopp chooses to play with no proper centre forward. Footballers are human, and he’ll be quite rightly disheartened and frustrated that he is being singled out when he sits on the bench as a striker, watching a strikerless team.

    He has a lot of ability. He can score goals from nothing and he does work hard, contrary to the last few weeks. He needs to be shown trust. He’s made a step up from one of the worst teams in the league to a big club and for quite an enormous fee. He’s under a lot of pressure, but it’s not all on him. If he has a ropey game, he needs to be shown the trust to put it right in the next game. I don’t see what benefit it has to keep pulling him and putting him back in. You can’t really build any kind of momentum that way. He wasn’t bought to be a squad player.

    Under Rodgers, it was practically a different tactic every week, because he was a bit of a lunatic. Under Klopp, he’s still working out his best 11 and best partnerships on the pitch. It’s understandable that his performances are hot and cold. The whole team run hot and cold. They smash City and Southampton away, but get get done over by Watford and Newcastle. Until the spine of the team start showing consistency, it’s a lot to ask an isolated centre forward to be consistent.

    Writing off a new summer signing in January is mental. But most kneejerk football bloggers tend to be mental as well.


    Sean the sailor

    Very good post evratime


    Hightown hope

    Spot on, evratime. Completely ridiculous article that doesn’t even warrant discussion…or even reading!



    Tindall is an idiot… I can’t stand his pieces over here, its one knee jerk reaction to the next…


    nine nine nine

    I don’t understand why there is a weekly Liverpool blog anyway?



    Evratime,brilliant post mate. Agree 100%. Benteke is frustrating,and I’ve criticised him a lot here,but we need to work out how to get the best out of him,rather than select him,drop him,select him,drop him. I personally can’t wait until we get the likes of Sturridge,Ings and Origi all back. I think we will score a lot of goals,and have options on the bench to come on and effect the game,rather than as it is now,where the bench is flooded with young fullbacks



    I agree with him to an extent in that the system with Benteke doesn’t work. To sell him because of that fact seems a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, especially so young and especially in his time at Villa looked almost unplayable in many games.

    Klopp has to decide which of the 4, Firminho, Lallana, Benteke, Coutinho (5 with Sturridge) he wants to play regularly and in what system. Against teams that are deep and organised, having Firminho, Lallana and Coutihnho doesn’t work because Benteke doesn’t work the channels and drag defenders out of position giving them space to create. They need more direct players that look to get to the byline and get crosses in, stretch teams back towards their own goal. Origi against Southampton in the cup did exactly this and that’s where the joy came from.

    So, he either has to get rid of Benteke as the article states, or get some different kind of attacking midfielders that will get more from Benteke (But would Coutinho/Lallana/Firminho be happy with more game time on the bench as a result?) I’d bet most games that Benteke has scored or had more chances, that Milner has been involved with most of his chances/goals.



    James Marshment, Rafa has been sacked or left under duress from every job


    Benteke is being made a scapegoat somewhat…he is our leading goal scorer…playing in a team that doesn’t have the tools to use his qualities… Rogers was an amateur, he didn’t plan for benreke properly sent players like markovic on loan who could have fed Benteke better. Firmino and lallanna for me have been bigger flops yet they get half the stick…


    Football Scouser

    Benteke is the “Vila Torres”. From a King to become just a normal player in a team is bound to be difficult. No tailor made tactic, fewer aerial supply, more defensive work required, bigger pressure etc are all barriers to him. He missed a lot of golden chances but he still get 6 goals till now, including the deceive goals of Leicester & Sunderland game. It is far from a remarkable feat but already a not too bad acquisition. He is at least better than Torres in blue, let alone the 16M flop.

    One of the reasons that Klopp prefer Origi to him is because we are lack of pace in the attacking department. If we can get a pacy winger in Jan., Benteke’s situation will become better. He has knack of scoring goals but weak in nearly all other areas.

    At present moment, we have no choice but keep on playing with him. We don’t have a good chance in getting a CL spot this season. So, why not give more time to Benteke. Even we want to sell, we have to wait for a better price, a 50% loss can become a 20% loss. FSG is not Man. City. They won’t allow Klopp to spend too much money.

    Resting all senior players but Benteke in the FA Cup already told us that Klopp is not satisfy with Benteke. Unless Benteke can keep on scoring one goal in every 2 games or even better. I think that he will be sold in summer.



    Have to say I really enjoyed reading this thread. Evratime’s comment about most kneejerk bloggers being mental really tickled me. Tindall probably chose this angle to provoke a response and he succeeded. Cheers

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