Benteke urged to commit to Villa
Published 03/05/2015 | 13:16
Tim Sherwood urged Christian Benteke to follow Fabian Delph's lead and show loyalty to Aston Villa.
The striker took his tally to 11 goals in nine games with a brace to down Everton 3-2 on Saturday.
It boosted Villa's survival hopes, although they remain two points above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone after Sunderland's 2-1 win over Southampton.
Delph also starred in front of watching England boss Roy Hodgson and he signed a new four-year deal in January.
Benteke has again been linked with a move away after being revived by Sherwood since his arrival in February, but the boss hopes the striker, along with his other stars, will look at Delph's example.
"This club might be a lot different (next season)," he said.
"I can't think of too many footballers who would have signed a four-year deal like Fabian Delph did when he could have gone to the top four.
"Maybe Aston Villa is a club they want to show loyalty too. Let's hope they all follow suit. But I believe even we didn't make a signing we wouldn't be in this position again."
Tom Cleverley added a third against Everton, latching on to Leandro Bacuna's throughball after Romelu Lukaku's penalty made it 2-1 just before the hour.
Bacuna is close friends with Benteke, and his neighbour, and admitted he has spoken to the Belgium international about his future.
He said: "I live about one minute from him and go around his place. We started talking about his future a little bit - and I want a lift into work every day - but we don't know what is going to happen.
"We are quite good friends. When he was injured, I'd say keep your head up like everyone was. We'd tell him the goals are going to come when he was not scoring.
"It's good for him that when he was struggling but now he has got his confidence back, he is really important for us."
Villa are 14th, above free-falling Newcastle on goal difference, but Sherwood insisted he would ignore the table until the end of the season.
"I have driven myself mad since I have been at the club looking at tables and permutations, other peoples' fixtures," he said.
"I have made a pact that I won't do that.
"It is a tough enough job trying to look at what we are doing at Villa, never mind looking at everyone else's results. You can't look at it. It drives you mad."
Defeat ended Everton's six-match unbeaten run after Phil Jagielka injury-time header made Villa sweat.
The scoreline was closer than the game suggested and boss Roberto Martinez insisted they cannot let the end to the season drift with little left to play for.
He said: "The ambition is to perform in the manner we did in the second half. A club like ours cannot afford to perform with a lack of intensity that we did in the first half. We have nine points to fight for and we were in the middle of a very good run.
"To get 16 out of 18 points was a really strong return, but now we need to make sure we put this result to bed and focus against Sunderland for what is going to be a really important game.
"The points tally at the end of the season has a real meaning of what we want to achieve for next season."