Roy Hodgson told the press he wouldn’t speak negatively about striker Christian Benteke’s performance against Wolves on Sunday whilst simultaneously admitting that the frontman isn’t performing as the supporters would like him to.
The Belgian was brought onto the field as a second half substitute for starting striker Jordan Ayew but given the difference in their approach to the role of a lone frontman, it’s fair to say that the entire side looked weaker when the former Liverpool man replaced the Ghanaian.
Ayew, whilst never seen by Palace fans as a prolific goal-scorer will at least always offer a sense of urgency and pressure from the front, something that with that best will in the world, Benteke simply doesn’t bring. His game, at least in his first season in red and blue, was heavily reliant on balls played in towards his head; without that under Roy Hodgson, he looks to have his way dramatically, both in terms of touch and confidence.
When asked for comment on Christian’s performance, Hodgson said:
“We give him lots of opportunities to practice that as a centre forward he needs to practice – attacking crosses, shooting, runs in and around the final third.
And we try hard not to lay blame on him to any great extent, more than the blame that unfortunately will come his way from people who do watch the game, who will be saying “why doesn’t he score those goals”?
There’s not so much more we can do, other than keep working and make certain that we don’t do anything to bring his confidence down by talking negatively about him.”
Maybe I’m overthinking this but surely, the second paragraph of that quote goes completely against the message Hodgson was supposedly trying to get across to the press? If you are trying to bring back the clearly shattered confidence of your big-money striker, actively saying that fans will be wondering why he simply cannot score seems like an extremely odd way of going about it.
I was confused by his introduction into the game and as frustrated as anyone by his strike straight at the Wolves keeper shortly after but the above quotes don’t make sense to me. I would imagine Benteke will once again be taking up a place on the substitute’s bench against Norwich on Saturday, when hopefully, if he is brought on, he can make a more positive impact than he managed against Santo’s men.