Lambert: Benteke will bounce back
Published 04/12/2013 | 10:42
Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert has challenged striker Christian Benteke to bounce back from his recent goal drought after seeing the Belgian go seven games without scoring.
Lambert has no doubt it is simply a temporary blip but realises it was inevitable that Benteke, 23, would be under the microscope this season after scoring 23 goals in all competitions in his maiden campaign.
"I'm pretty sure Christian's a victim of his own success but he's created that himself," Lambert said. "There's nobody he can blame for that other than himself because he set a really high standard for himself and when you fall below it, that's what can happen.
"The challenge is for him to bounce back from that. People forget how old he is, they think he's been around for years. I'm pretty sure he'll come back from it.
"I think the fact he hasn't scored for a while will affect him but that's normal.
"I was fortunate enough to play with some world class strikers and I saw them having little barren spells. Everybody comes through it and Christian is the same. He just needs a goal to set himself back on that road."
Benteke's general performances, not just his lack of goals, have also caused consternation. Lambert, though, rubbished suggestions the striker is carrying himself any differently.
"It makes me laugh when people talk about body language," he said.
"How do you read somebody's body language? Do people go to a game and just study somebody's movement?
"He's had a little bit of a spell where he's not scoring and not playing as well as he has previously but the thing with Christian is he set himself a really high standard last season - incredibly high - to the extent where people in the media were talking about the fact he was only behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the European scoring charts for the calendar year.
"His standard was really high and when you fall below that with just a little blip it can be blown up into 'he's having an absolute nightmare', so you've got to watch it."
Lambert hinted he would not rule out dropping his star striker, who handed in a summer transfer request before changing his mind.
"Whatever decision I make I'm sure he'll respect it," said the Scot. "It's not just one player you have to look after here, there's 25 guys. I'll do what I think is right for this club. Chris is a major part of it and I'll make the best decision I can for the club."
Lambert's side travel to face in-form Southampton on Wednesday evening with Austrian forward Andreas Weimann (hamstring) their only slight injury doubt.