Why Paul Lambert is facing the most testing two days in his career

Paul Lambert could be facing the toughest couple of days in his career as a football manager.

Christian Benteke is due back for pre-season training tomorrow and the club are set to fine him in the region of £20,000 if he does not show up to get stuck into the club’s pre-season schedule.

Benteke’s desire to leave Aston Villa has been quite public and evident through his transfer request, which has sparked a mass frenzy of links and rumours connecting him with various clubs in England and Europe.

Lambert has ruled Aston Villa with somewhat of an iron fist so far during his time at Villa Park so the notion that he could drop the fine in order to try and keep Benteke at the club is laughable.

However, the major downside of fining a player who has already made it clear that he wants to leave the club is the idea that it effectively pushes him out of the exit door altogether.

Lambert will still have ambitions to keep Benteke at the club despite his desire to leave and despite how close the situation is getting to being untenable for all the parties involved.

It’s a very delicate situation for Lambert to judge because he can’t be seen to look weak, dropping rules on Benteke’s behalf but at the same time, he needs to keep positive communication lines open with his best player.

There have been suggestions that Lambert may leave Benteke confined to the bench in similar fashion to how he handled the career of Darren Bent when he first took over at the club.

That would also give Lambert an extra problem because for that to happen would mean Benteke remaining an Aston Villa player beyond the current transfer window.

In that instance, considering the season Benteke has just had, there would be huge questions over why Lambert wasn’t trying to get the most out of Benteke, using him out on the pitch in physical examples of why he should stay at the club long term.

The best way for him to get on top of the whole issue and stop it from spiralling out of control and becoming a problem, which spreads and infects the club quickly is to deal with it and nip it in the bud.

Benteke is not bigger than Aston Villa so he will be fined just like any other player but Lambert can use some politics, stressing the club’s policies in such matters while talking to the striker and trying to convince him that he’s making a mistake.

He has to try and keep Benteke motivated and passionate about Aston Villa, using all of the positive things about the current squad to try and get the Belgian interested in what the club could achieve next season.

He’s got to try something because Benteke is that important.

How would you handle Benteke coming back to pre-season training?

image: © ell-r-brown

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