Fan Opinion : Benteke – Was his first season really that bad?

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He seems to be the overriding subject in terms of outgoings at the club this summer, throughout the season on social media he has taken a lot of criticism from many Liverpool fans and at times generic football fans too.
The likelihood is this summer, from many reports, is that he will be on his way for around £20m upwards. Is this the right decision though?

Christian Benteke cost Liverpool £32.5m in the summer of 2015 which had many Liverpool fans up in arms. Most of them making their feelings known that they did not believe he was worth this much. While this is of no fault of the player, many people took an instant dislike to him for this reason, which meant they would be closely watching, hoping, praying, he was able to rack up goals on a regular basis.

Benteke’s return for Aston Villa in 3 seasons in the Premier League was 42 goals in 82 Premier League starts for the club, which is a goal scoring ratio of 0.51. In comparison, Sergio Aguero has scored 102 goals in 132 starts for Manchester City, which equates to a ratio of 0.77.
Whilst I’m aware Aguero is a better all-round player than Benteke. We as Liverpool fans are more than aware of the transfer committee, they look more at stats than anything. With a goal scoring record like that for a smaller team in the league, it is understandable why we went for the target man and the £32.5m was just the buyout clause, not the actual valuation of the striker.

Whether we liked it or not, in he came. Spearheading the attack under Rodgers due to Sturridge being injured. In his first game against Stoke at the Britannia, the signs were that he and Coutinho could develop a very positive understanding, while he did not get a goal he was constantly on the edge of the backline ready if Philippe had released the ball. I don’t believe he had a bad game at all and we won which meant everyone was happy.
His next Liverpool game was at home to Bournemouth, no one will remember this game in years to come but we won 1-0 and Benteke scored the winner.
Next up was Arsenal at the Emirates, this is where the anti-Benteke bandwagon began. We all remember the miss, Benteke was 2-3 yards out and somehow managed to not score, it happens, it’s football. However, due to the price tag he’s been lumbered with, misses like this are going to stick in the minds of the Benteke hate mob.
After this game a humbling 3-0 defeat to West Ham at Anfield followed and then the next game was Manchester United at Old Trafford. This is where, I personally believe, we saw Liverpool’s goal of the season. We all remember the Benteke volley, even the most try hard Benteke doubters can’t deny the sheer class of the strike.

This was the last game Benteke played under Rodgers at Liverpool due to an injury, in came Klopp singing his praises claiming he tried to sign the striker when he was manager of Dortmund. Benteke’s first game under Klopp was a 1-1 draw with Southampton at home, Benteke scored to make it 1-0 and if it was not for some lacklustre defending, he would have once again been a match winner. Next up was Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, a comfortable 3-1 victory which led people to praise Klopp came. Benteke secured the victory with the 3rd Liverpool goal after some splendid footwork and a tidy finish into the bottom corner.

After this victory, bar the 4-1 thumping of City at the Etihad, Liverpool as a team, had a very rough couple of months under Klopp. Losses to Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Watford as well as a 2-2 draw with West Brom came over the next few games leading to Christmas.

Come Boxing Day, the mood around Anfield when Leicester came to town was not joyful to say the least, Leicester were top of the table at Christmas and had been playing some exceptional counter attacking football. Sadly, this game again is remembered for a Benteke miss, we all recall when he was 1 on 1 with a defender, Wes Morgan I believe, and couldn’t manage to convert his chance. However, I wonder how many people remember that we actually won the game 1-0 and who scored the goal? Christian Benteke.

His work was done and we secured the 3 points, another match winning goal followed against Sunderland 4 days later with another 1-0 victory. That means in his short spell at Anfield, Benteke had secured 9 points for the club with three goals in three 1-0 victories, yes we’re aware he could have bagged two in each of these 1-0 games but that’s football, he didn’t, we won. Life goes on.

Sadly, Benteke didn’t get much game time under Klopp for the second half of the season, very regularly coming on from the bench and left to try and create something in the last 5-10 minutes of games. Which for a player who’s been the main man at Aston Villa for the past three years must be very difficult.
The only real contribution Benteke made for the remainder of the campaign, was an assist for Joe Allen last minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw against Arsenal, winning and scoring a penalty to secure another 3 points and scoring a last minute header against Chelsea at Anfield, which means Benteke goals alone secured Liverpool 13 points over the league campaign.

Overall in the league, Benteke scored 9 goals and got 3 assists. The only players who have achieved better tallies for the club in their full debut season are Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and now Roberto Firmino, not a bad group of players, really.

Benteke played half the minutes his international team mate Romelu Lukaku played and managed the same goals per minute ratio as the striker in the Premier League this season. Crazy really, how one is considered to be a flop and not cut out for his team’s style of play and one is rumoured to be subject of interest from Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Manchester United among others.
The truth of all this is that had Benteke not cost £32.5m, more so closer to the £16m Balotelli cost, the negative attitude towards him would not have come about. Sadly, it did, I’m also aware Benteke probably doesn’t register in Klopps plans for the 2016/17 season ahead which is a shame.

I personally believe he should do, given a second season he could flourish as he is exceptional in the air and always has a habit of finding space for chances, if he improves his chance conversion, it could be a very positive season ahead for the target man as well as Liverpool Football Club.
However, if it is the end and he departs for West Ham (his most probable destination) I wish him all the best and hope that he proves the doubters wrong.