Christian Benteke remains goalless at Selhurst Park this season and on Sunday evening, the Belgian striker got absolutely ripped apart by Alan Shearer on Match Of The Day 2.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter will likely be aware that my own personal view on the Newcastle United legend is far from positive, given the frequent negative comments he’s made regarding Wilfried Zaha’s “end product” but when listening to his take on Benteke, I felt as though he was making a worthy point.
Whilst I have never questioned the former Liverpool man’s willingness to defend for the team, I am often left feeling exasperated at his meek approach in the attacking third of the field. Admittedly, he is known as a man who likes the ball played to his head but this term, it feels as though he’s simply refusing to entertain the idea of making runs which may end up with an easy tap-in at the near or far post.
Given the attributes associated with both Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend, you would assume that a striker of Benteke’s pedigree would by now have grown accustomed to getting into the six-yard-box and across his covering defender for balls being slid across the “corridor of uncertainty” just as Glenn Murray used to when playing as a focal point between Zaha and Yannick Bolasie for us.
With only two goals to his name this term, away to Leicester and West Ham respectively, I feel obliged to mention that the big man hasn’t scored a competitive goal with his feet for more than 10 months now, which by any regularly selected striker’s standards, simply cannot be deemed good enough.
Whilst I am fully aware that Christian’s confidence is probably in need of a boost, we as a club are in the midst of a relegation dogfight in which we need our players to stand up and be counted. From his perspective, that should mean bursting a figurative lung to get into goalscoring positions and being unafraid to miss.
You need only look at Harry Kane’s approach to Sunday’s game to see what happens when a striker backs themselves to score time and time again. In terms of chance conversion, the Spurs man had an awful day at Selhurst Park but rather than sulking, he kept on putting himself in the right places and was eventually rewarded when nodding home the winner in the dying minutes.
I’d have no issue with Benteke missing four out of every five chances he got if he was actively pursuing the opportunity to score in each attack but this term, it seems as though he’d rather square the ball to someone else in favour of taking a pop at goal himself.
If his and more importantly the team’s collective fortunes are to change between now and May, I feel as though he’ll have to adopt a more ruthless mindset in front of goal or face up to the possibility of being replaced by the eye-catching Alexander Sørloth at the head of the side.
The choice is his to make.