Date: 9th July 2013 at 11:25am
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It almost seems inevitable, and this may well be a knee-jerk reaction, but Christian Benteke has (and hasn`t) revealed his true colours.

In a previous article (Has He Bentekin` Us All For Fools?) I pointed out that when our (now rapidly falling) star striker first joined us he never once commented on how much he wanted to play for Aston Villa; the main emphasis was on playing in the Premier League with his Belgian colleagues and how much he wanted to prove himself in the Premier League. I also said the best outcome we could hope for would be for him to honour his contract/accept an improved one and continue performing for us.

We are almost left helpless in our efforts to accommodate a striker capable of scoring goals on a regular basis and for a prolonged number of seasons. Benteke has handed in a transfer request. Darren Bent no longer fits into the manager`s plans. Gabby scores goals but not regularly enough. Andy Weimann shows heaps of promise but needs to stamp his authority on a forward role. Nathan Delfouneso is on his way out. Helenius and Bowery are as yet unproven. Other than bringing through more reserve strikers, what are we left with? To hope that Charles N`Zogbia could undergo a Thierry Henry-style transformation? We could only dream!

I suppose the point I`m trying to make with this article is that we don`t have much luck with strikers, either through bad management, poor choices, under-performance or believing their own hype. The list of failures over recent years (in no particular order: Savo Milosevic, Julian Joachim, Tommy Johnson, Milan Baros, Bosko Balaban, Marcus Allback, through no fault of his own, Luc Nilis, Luke Moore, Stefan Moore, Delfouneso, Darius Vassell ) outweighs the list of successes (Dwight Yorke, Dion Dublin, Juan Pablo Angel, John Carew, Darren Bent, Gabby, Benteke). I may well have missed a few out there but when you consider the time period over which we`ve had these players it could be fair to say we`ve punched well above our weight finishing as high as we have done in previous campaigns without a 20+ goals a season forward.

The problem that Benteke`s request has revealed is that we realise without him, and with Bent`s inevitable departure, there are a limited amount of goals in the team. It should have been the partnership of dreams but it wasn`t meant to be. This will always be the problem teams outside the top 4/5 will face. There are enough goals in the United/City/Chelsea/Arsenal teams to keep them competitive and challenging if they were to lose one of their strikers. When Bent and Benteke go, who have we got? It`d be nice to say that we can rely on Gabby/Andy/Helenius/Bowery/Bacuna/Tonev/N`Zogbia to bang them in and to cover for injuries but this cannot, and should not, be the contingency plan.

The only way we will have a 20+ goals a season centre forward is if we nurture one through the ranks who bleeds claret and blue blood, sign a foreign player who has always been a big fan of the club or land a proven 29-30 year old looking to finish his career at a reputable Premier League club who fits into the manager`s plan. This may seem harsh but it also presents as logical to me. People will continue to defend keeping Bent but he`s clearly not part of Lambert`s view for the future. I`m sure he could easily go and sign the next Christian Benteke but we may then face the same problem 12 months later, and do we want to go through that again?

We have been crying out for a striker of Benteke`s ability for the longest time. Now that we finally have him, we suddenly no longer match his ambition. Strange really, he said he wanted to play in the Premier League; he is. The familiar problem of goal shortages looks to be looming upon us again, and I hope that whatever money we get for our latest gun for hire is invested in finding a more than suitable alternative. I wish Benteke all the best in his career and hope that he achieves the salary and trophies that he clearly feels his only season in the Premier League so far has afforded him. As for finding a replacement, if we can find one that wants to play in our claret and blue for 7 seasons rather than just in the Premier League for one season that would be just grand.