Burnley’s Manuel Benson shows brilliance after being beaten and bruised

Much excitement surrounded the arrival of Manuel Benson from Antwerp this summer.

With the skill of getting fans out of their seats, expectations were high and the hope was that he would hit the ground running.

It has not been easy for the 25-year-old Belgian, but his goal and overall performance in Burnley’s 2-1 win over Bristol City indicated he is adjusting to the demands of the tournament.

Benson tapped a rebound into the inner left channel four minutes later, and Benson did not hesitate to move toward goal. The defense from Bristol City helped his advance into the penalty area where they stood and allowed him to advance.

Benson accepted their invitation and fired a shot from inside al-Qaim into the window.

There was a distinct irony in Benson’s goal as he had spent most of his short England career getting kicked and tackled by opponents’ defenders who did not give him a second rest.

After an encouraging start to all action off the bench against Luton Town, he secured his first match against Watford.

Hassan Kamara gave him a harsh introduction to life in the second class. Within five minutes, the winger was hacked by the left-back three times – Burnley coach Vincent Kompany expressed his displeasure, and so did the player.

Watford’s tactic worked and Benson was conservative and cautious in possession, failing to impact the match before being substituted in the 62nd minute.

Benson’s simple physique makes him an obvious target – whenever he’s on the field, he continues to attract attention and fouls from opponents.

She was a rude wake-up, which explains why Kompany has been calling for patience from his supporters since the start of the season.

Not everyone is convinced by Benson, and discussions have erupted on social media in recent weeks. Glimpses of quality received moments of frustration, particularly with the last ball.

These questions are answered. Benson accepted the physical challenge as he adapts and improves.

Burnley used a variety of methods to speed up the process. The goal was to provide Benson with “the tools” as Kompany referred to them. Information and analysis, including videos, was provided for him to take on board.

The focus was on Benson picking up the right pockets of space to receive the ball and move forward, rather than constantly being under pressure from the opponent when receiving the ball. This requires thinking beyond the opponent by mixing running backwards with supplying for passes.

During training sessions, Kompany instructed the linebackers to be aggressive against Benson in small matches and possession training. Kompany tried to pick the most aggressive full-back at Burnley to mark him to help simulate match-like situations.

They were tough on the wing in training by not counting errors when Benson was tackled by his teammates to continue making him more familiar with this treatment.

Burnley’s assistant manager Craig Bellamy, a similar size to Benson, played a major role. The 43-year-old has spent his entire career facing bigger defenders trying to bully him. Bellamy gave his best and experienced handler to the tournament.

Benson is looking to get past two Bristol City defenders (Photo: Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Benson’s changing cameo in the match against Millwall at the end of August was the first indication that it was paying off. He came as a substitute with the level of results, and issued a cross for the opening goal.

It wasn’t just his goal contribution that was impressive as Millwall tried to force himself on him. They did not succeed because the winger created space using his movement, dribbling and speed. Millwall struggled to get close to him.

Performing well on the bench against a tired team is one thing, but doing it from the start is different. Once again, he began to answer these questions. He received the Sky Sports Player of the Year award in the match against Preston North End and followed that up against Bristol City with another thrilling performance.

He was pivotal to Burnley’s creativity in the first half. He nearly made Nathan Tella with a run and a cross pass before his goal. Later, he ignored two challenges to start a move that led to another chance for Tila. There was a rear wheel nutmeg that was well thrown in.

It was a shame that he limped due to muscle stiffness after 53 minutes.

It was Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Benson’s replacement, who provided the decisive pass to winner Jay Rodriguez, causing Burnley to avoid a third straight draw.

The matches against Preston and Bristol City were excellent examples of Burnley’s depth of attack. After Darko Cherlinov was disqualified for two months, Benson and Tila were knocked out of matches due to muscle tightness. Despite these absences, Burnley managed to fall behind in quality. Anas Al-Zarouri, who replaced Tella in both matches, demonstrated his technical quality and potential. Gudmundsson, who missed a draw with Preston, returned to the bench to replace Benson against Bristol City.

This is all without Scott Twain. The wait for his reintroduction continues, as the 23-year-old suffers a small setback in his recovery from the injury.

Benson’s progress is exciting, and as with many players signed over the summer, Kompany believes there is a lot more to come.

Opponents may keep kicking him, but Benson has proven he can take it, dust himself off and keep going. That would be invaluable as the demands for continued performance continue.

(Top image: Ian Hodgson/PA Images via Getty Images)


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