Saido Berahino – a waste of young British talent? Or his own worst enemy? James Robinson takes a look at Berahino’s goal-scoring struggles ahead of Stoke City’s clash with Southampton this Saturday.
The Burundi-born striker has not been short of negative headlines throughout his tumultuous career. From drink-driving charges, to failing a drugs test, Berahino has fallen short of ingratiating himself into the hearts of the football-loving public – or indeed, even those of his managers and fellow players. His attitude comes off as petulant, or another example of an over-privileged footballer who cares more about the ‘glamour’ than the pure love of the game.
Berahino’s bad-boy reputation has seemingly always been there, detracting from any of the positives he brings to the pitch. After an argument with then-manager, Uwe Rosler, he saw a promising loan spell at Brentford cut short, before receiving a 12 month drink-driving ban. The striker was then more recently frozen-out of the West Brom team by Tony Pulis for attempting to orchestrate a move away to a ‘bigger club’. In amongst that animosity surrounding the levered move away from The Hawthorns, it was revealed by new manager, Mark Hughes, that he had failed a drugs test and had served an 8-week ban. All this from a player who was voted Under-21 Player of the Year (by fans), beating-out the likes of Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson.
Digging deeper, it appears Berahino’s past is as erratic as his goal-scoring stats. After his father was killed in a civil war, he was taken into care until he could be reunited with his family (who had recently found asylum in Britain). At 10 years of age, it’s a wonder he found any time to play football, let alone cultivate a moralistic compass that would see him make the correct life decisions — Every. Single. Time. Whatever we are led to believe, the modern footballer is not a robot.
Berahino by the Numbers
Here are Berahino’s goal stats:
- West Bromwich Albion – 105 apps 23 goals
- Northampton Town (loan) – 14 apps 6 goals
- Brentford (loan) – 8 apps 4 goals
- Peterborough United (loan) – 10 apps 2 goals
- Stoke City – 16 apps – 0 goals
Though not seemingly the most prolific of Premier League goal-scorer on paper, he has nonetheless scored at every level. When on loan with Northampton, Brentford, and Peterborough, Berahino enjoyed success in front of goal despite making only a handful of appearances. His combined 12 goals were enough to see him break into the West Brom team – becoming a big hit with Baggies’ fans. He also scored goals for England U16s and upwards and is the third-highest goal-scorer (11 goals) for England U21s, just behind Alan Shearer and Francis Jeffers (13 goals).
It’s clear to see that Berahino is indeed a very gifted individual. He rarely gives the ball away, he is agile, and his link up play with Salomón Rondón was one of the major reasons West Bromwich Albion avoided relegation in the 2015/6 season – that and the appointment of Pulis, of course. Since Berahino’s departure Rondón has only scored twice; and with that in mind, it seems that the wayward striker brings more to a team than just his goals.
Turning a Corner?
Berahino clearly has not hit the ground running at Stoke, and it now seems that Mark Hughes is starting to lose faith in him – after backing him to make a ‘bigger impact’ in the 2017-18 season. After being sent to a ‘fat-camp’, after concerns were raised about his fitness, Berahino has done everything he can to get back to the level he reached at West Brom. Will he ever score again? Only time will tell. But if he can find a way to behave himself, stay fit, and hang-in amongst the first team, the forward has a real chance of silencing the haters. Who knows — he could even be in with a shout of playing for England.
Stoke City v Southampton, Saturday 30 September (3:00pm)
Stoke City are coming off a string of bad results, and with pressure building on Mark Hughes to keep his job, I think they might pull off a narrow home win on Saturday. The last 2 games are not representative of the season so far: the result in their last league game against Chelsea flattered to deceive, and the Bristol City game was most certainly a poor result that cannot be excused. Stoke have to come out fighting on Saturday, so an early goal for the home team looks probable.
Berahino will likely not start the game, so may have to just be happy with a 30-minute run out. However, I am still going to back him to break his duck against The Saints.
As for Southampton, Mauricio Pellegrino, the club’s new manager, was brought in because of his ethos of playing attacking football, and with Stoke’s morale on a downer, I think they are worth a goal.
Game Prediction: 2-1, Stoke.