Stan's the Man with mega talent
Under-Siege Stan Collymore is destined to be "a world-beater - or a nothing" ... and at the moment his career is heading towards that big fat zero!
Time is running out for a star who would test the patience of Job, let alone a top manager such as Liverpool's Roy Evans.
Last week the rumour-factory had it that Evans and Liverpool were in talks with Aston Villa.
But the truth is there was no bid from Brian Little - and a chairman- to-chairman chat between Doug Ellis and David Moores fell a long way short of a deal.
But if Evans decided to bomb out Colly, a sometime British record buy at pounds 8.5million, it would surprise absolutely nobody.
Certainly not his first boss Tommy Coakley, who gave the striker his first chance in the game as a Walsall YTS trainee.
And last night Coakley declared: "Even at 16 Stan was very much his own man, with his own ideas about absolutely everything.
"Sadly, most of his ideas were usually wrong - and even when he was right he didn't realise hardened professionals weren't ready to listen to a kid of his age.
"It didn't help that he was also a very poor trainer who never realised that application was just as important as ability.
"I felt from Day One that he'd either be one of the best players in the world or that he'd have a very short career and finish up as a nothing.
"At the moment it seems to me he's heading towards nothing. I just hope and pray the penny soon drops - he needs to mature very quickly or it will all drift away from him."
Coakley first saw the young Collymore in a match specially arranged for him to view his extraordinary talents.
He was stunned by the player's ability and didn't hesitate to offer him a place on the Walsall staff.
But it wasn't long before the downside of the moody loner's nature became very clear indeed.
Coakley said: "He found it very hard to grasp the fact that application was as important as ability.
"He always had injuries and I remember him forever complaining about thighs, calves and hamstrings.
"I recall one occasion when I had decided to put on one very tough training session, or so Stan thought.
"Very quickly he came up to me saying he could feel he had a bit of a hamstring.
"I told him to go off to see the physio, then told the lads I'd changed my mind and we were going to have some five-a-sides. Within a few minutes Stan was back declaring himself OK.
"Trust me, there was a lot of laughing over that one because we'd all had a perfect insight into the boy's attitude."
Ten years on, mighty Liverpool are still being haunted by the Collymore view of life which gives many the impression that he considers himself a man apart. And didn't Forest have just the same difficulty in the early 90s?
Said Coakley: "He really was very difficult. He'd only have to take a tiny knock and he'd be up complaining and claiming he wasn't fit to train.
"We tried to tell him that every professional in the game carried knocks and this was all part of growing up in the game, but he wasn't having it.
"Things don't seem to have changed a great deal, although I only follow what's happening through the papers. It seems to me he's as immature in his approach to the game now as he was then.
"I tried desperately hard to get through to him and remember having a long chat with him and his mum, to whom he's devoted.
"To be fair, he was a bit better after that - but he appears to have slipped back a bit since those early days.
"Let's face it, when one of the biggest and best clubs in the country can't get to terms with him, he could easily find himself in trouble."
Coakley fears that the Collymore career is heading for burnout, but amazingly he doesn't believe Stan The Man will be worrying too much.
He said: "I really don't believe it will worry Stan too much if he suffers only a very short career.
"Trying to get inside his head is incredibly difficult - I never really found out what was going on in there.
"He needs help. I don't mean counselling - he just needs to sit down with someone, unload and let that person get through to him.
"He's always said Barry Fry is the man he related to the best. Perhaps Barry should pick up the phone and have a long chat with the lad."
Could Villa fill that need if the chairman and managers pick up the initial interest again? Coakley can see sense in a move back to his roots.
"Stan was a big Villa fan and it could be the answer to his problems," he says.
"He loves the Midlands and will never be really happy anywhere else, so perhaps that's the answer. He needs to find a club where the manager can learn to understand him.
"I want to read headlines about his achievements on the pitch - not what's going wrong off it. Stan is an enigma, but with a settled home life we could finally see what he's all about."
Collymore's decision not to play in the Anfield reserves against Tranmere was a huge mistake, according to Coakley.
He said: "Why doesn't he realise that if you don't play your fitness levels will suffer and that can only shorten his career.
"But we're talking about a man who is a law unto himself - and who clearly still hasn't got it right.
"Stan has enormous earning power and need only get his head down for another six years to ensure that he's set up for life.
"One day the penny MAY drop. I sincerely hope so, because he's a mega- talent who is losing his way.
"Something has to happen soon. Otherwise we could see him disappear, and that would be a tragedy!"
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