Roy Hodgson says Crystal Palace will do everything they can to give Christian Benteke the encouragement he needs to rediscover his form in front of goal.
The Belgium international moved to Selhurst Park from Liverpool in August 2016 for a fee of £27 million and was a big hit in his first season, scoring 17 times in all competitions.
But the goals have dried up for Benteke since that successful debut campaign. He has only scored on four occasions since the 2016-17 season ended and a missed another key chance in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves in the Premier League.
Jeffrey Schlupp, who later failed to take an equally excellent opportunity, found the forward in the box and he cut inside but fired straight at Rui Patricio in the 78th minute.
Then, in stoppage time, Diogo Jota cancelled out Leander Dendoncker’s own goal to give the visitors a share of the spoils.
On Benteke, Hodgson said: “We have to give him all the encouragement we possibly can and continue to work in training and in the type of areas we want him to get into and the type of movements we want him to make.
“We have to give him lots of opportunities to practise the things, as a centre-forward, he needs to practise like attacking crosses, shooting and the 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 which unfortunately will come his way from the people who watch the game who will say, ‘Why doesn’t he score those goals?’
“There’s not so much more we can do except to keep working and make sure we don’t join that band of people who are likely to bring his confidence down by talking negatively about him.”
A win for Palace would have moved them up to seventh, but instead they are 12th with eight points from six games.
“We feel very disappointed and upset that we couldn’t see this game through and get all three points which would have lifted us up the table,” Hodgson added.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves remain without a victory in the Premier League this season, but they ended a run of three consecutive defeats in all competitions thanks to Jota’s close-range late strike.
The 22-year-old fired home Adama Traore’s cross, which Joel Ward should have cleared, much to the delight of the travelling faithful at Selhurst Park.
“It’s about the bond created between ourselves and the fans. A word of appreciation for them because they were fantastic,” Nuno said.
“Even when we were losing, they were supporting us, singing and pushing us forward. It was amazing. I cannot thank them enough.”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1