Going the extra mile: Will Benteke ever put in a shift for the Eagles?

Ben Mountain

What can £30 million buy you these days? Apparently, you can actually grab yourself 1,000,000 acres of the moon for less than that. Or one Christian Benteke instead. We’re not sure which would be more use.

When you spend a club record fee, in fact more than double that club record fee, you expect quite a lot, don’t you? Crystal Palace fans certainly did when they snapped up the Belgian forward, Christian Benteke, from Liverpool last summer.

What they expected was a strong, aerially commanding forward who nabs 15 goals a season. To be quite honest, that’s what they got. And they’re not complaining.

But watching Palace recently has raised an alarming fact: the £30 million forward really doesn’t put in the sort of shift his price tag suggests he should.


Big Chris has always been a pretty one-dimensional striker who’d never quite set the world alight. Whilst he’s impressive and gets the goals you need – more often than not, that is – he’s Palace’s star man, their one regular striker. He’s the target man they rely upon, their talisman that should shine above the rest.

And, quite simply, he doesn’t.

Bentekkers doesn’t fit into the new system that Frank de Boer is trying to enforce at Palace. Like we said, he’s pretty one-dimensional. You lump it to him, he brings it down and gets it in the goal from the penalty area. He has a big, powerful head. Great.

But he hardly embodies total football. Johan Cruyff would not approve.

So, recently, Benteke really doesn’t seem to make even the slightest effort. He doesn’t fit the system so he’s not going to change. In fact, he’s not going to try.

Heading down to Selhurst Park today is synonymous with seeing Christian Benteke ambling, not stretching his neck and moaning a lot more than playing. It’s a football cliche, but if a player puts in a shift nine times out of ten, he’ll be respected and appreciated, regardless of actual talent.

Sadly, the Belgian will blame pretty much anyone; refs, teammates, the opposition, but himself for his own often lazy ineptitude. It’s not uncommon to see him languishing outside the area where he belongs, or, when he is in the box, not bothering to tower above defenders as he’s expected to.

In Wayne Henessey, Palace have a ‘keeper who, whilst isn’t the best, has a bloody massive boot on him. And with six foot, three-inch Benteke up top, that should come in handy.

But the forward hardly raises a foot off the floor when the ball goes sailing tantalisingly close to his head. It drives fans up the wall. Astonishingly, he regularly wins the most aerial duels of any player on a Saturday. So imagine if he actually tried to earn that accolade.

We’re not saying he’s devoid of talent or not serving Palace well. Far from it. The fella has 15 goals from 39 games, which isn’t woeful. Who was expecting anymore?

But from 15 goals, Benteke could do so much more if he seemed to genuinely care. If he put in a properly decent shift and stretched that extra yard or ran that extra bit harder. Or, and this should be a given, jumped that inch higher. And, particularly this season, stopped wasting the easy chances.

On top of that, Tekkers seems more than happy to get bullied by the lads around him, despite being the biggest bugger on the pitch. He rarely goes head-to-head with those in the box and that prohibits both him and Palace from real success.

Having gone from the committed likes of Mile Jedinak, Glen Murray and Joe Ledley; lads who showed passion, dedication and strength every single game, Palace fans must be tearing their hair out over the complacent forward.

If his talent were matched with just a hint of desire, Benteke would be worth that 1,000,000 acres of the moon. Maybe even more.

It’s saddening to see someone worth that sort of money giving up on his football career already. Benteke is only 26 for crying out loud, he’s got another ten years on the clock.

But having peaked at Aston Villa and then been overlooked at the relative behemoths, Liverpool, the chap seems to have given up the ghost more than just a touch too early. Crystal Palace aren’t actually a bad side and have had managers that favour playing with a big man up top.

Simply providing at the expected level shouldn’t have been enough. He should have excelled. And now de Boer has come along with a tactical style that doesn’t suit him. Excelling is out of the picture.

But drastically underperforming is unacceptable. For thirty million, Benteke owes it to those around him to put in a shift. Just a bit of a shift. He’s said it himself, Palace need to adopt de Boer’s tactics. But actions, as well all know, speak louder than words. And jumping speaks even louder than both.

Then, who knows, he’ll be meeting those expectations again. Considering Palace’s current state, that’s better than nothing. If Big Chris gave a damn, there’d be a lot more contentment in Croydon, that’s for sure. And maybe some goals, too.

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