Raymond van Barneveld needs to learn how to beat Phil Taylor again to renew darts' great rivalry.
Last Updated: 31/03/09 3:44pm
Raymond van Barneveld burst onto the PDC scene and promptly took Phil Taylor's world title away in one of the best finals in history, but unless he shrugs off his inferiority complex he will not be able to challenge 'The Power' again.
None more so was this more evident that at the NIA in Birmingham for the eighth night of Premier League action, when another huge clash between the 'Big Two' turned out to be a damp squib with a routine 8-2 victory for Taylor.
Five-time world champion Barney has not been quite at his best in the Premier League so far this season, but in two matches against Taylor he has looked a beaten man even before the first dart has been thrown.
Although a snarling presence during his walk-on with the Eye of the Tiger blasting out over the sound system, Barney becomes a pussy cat when matched against Taylor, and smiles his way through to defeat.
The two Premier League defeats came after a 6-2 loss at the World Grand Prix in Dublin last October and a 7-1 thrashing at the World Championship in January.
Messing about with his darts and problems with fitness have hampered Barney's game, but it seems that after Taylor lifted his standards a notch the big Dutchman was unable to find a response and he now seems to have resigned himself to being second best, at best, in the PDC.
It all looked so differently when Barney looked to have the 'Indian sign' over Taylor upon his arrival in the PDC, with splendid back-to-back victories at the UK Open and the Las Vegas Desert Classic in 2006.
That epic world final followed, and Barney had soon won four big matches out of five against the man unquestionably the best ever to throw the tungsten.
It has all crumbled from then on though for Barney, and he has now notched just one win in his last 12 meetings with Taylor, and the almighty rivalry darts fans were relishing now seems to have fizzled out into another Taylor domination.
But it is not just the defeats, but the manner of them which is worrying to all those who want to see the gifted and very likable van Barneveld thrive and really challenge Taylor in the PDC.
There could be a glimmer of hope with the UK Open in June, with the Reebok Stadium in Bolton evidently like a fortress for van Barneveld when it comes to facing Taylor.
Barney has three consecutive victories over the great man in Bolton out of three matches and he will be hoping he can find a fourth from somewhere which might go someway to removing the mental block that pops up whenever The Power strides on stage.
Before then, of course, Barney will be hoping to make the Premier League play-offs when another meeting with Taylor should come, and finally cracking the Stoke man's monopoly of that tournament would also give the Barney Army a huge boost as they back their man all the way.
It does seem a long way off though, and as much as I like Barney's ultra-relaxed style and god-given darting talents, he does need to toughen up and not be so friendly when he comes up against Taylor - because make no mistake Taylor is out to thrash him every time.
As a fan thirsting for another juicy darting rivalry to propel the sport to even greater heights, we need Barney to get his teeth into beating, or at least challenging, Taylor's current dominance - as there are precious few others who seem capable.
Mervyn King talks and plays a good game, but needs to beat Taylor in a major to be taken seriously, as does James Wade, who has captured the big titles but never when taking out The Power.
Barney has been there and done it, and he must remember those victories and use them to spur him on, to avoid many more disappointing nights like Birmingham.