Alan Pardew had plenty of praise for Christian Benteke after the Belgian earned a point for Crystal Palace at Everton.
Benteke’s compatriot, Romelu Lukaku, had put the home side ahead with a free kick, but this strike was cancelled out by the Palace striker’s well directed header.
The former Liverpool and Aston Villa man was the club’s number one target in the summer, and some of the £27m they shelled out on him is now being paid off.
“He was our number one target all summer, we stuck on it,” said Pardew. “I kept pushing Steve [Parish, the Palace chairman], he ummed and ahhed a little bit, a few phone calls to our Americans, and questions, but of course he’s repaying that because he’s a quality player.”
The manager went on to say that he believes his player would have been better for Liverpool had he enjoyed a longer run in the side.
“I do think he was a bit unlucky at Liverpool to not have a run of games,” he said. “He’s a player that needs to have a run of games, Andy Carroll was the same, big guys, and Rickie Lambert I had at Southampton was the same. It’s difficult, I think, for big guys to come in and out.
“We’re really pleased with him, he hasn’t been on the losing side I don’t think for us, yet, which goes to show the level he’s at.”
When asked if his new striker was one of the best players he’s managed when it came to aerial ability, Pardew played his Teddy Sheringham trump card.
“I’ve managed Teddy Sheringham and Andy Carroll, so there’s good company. I think Andy Carroll and Christian are on a par, but technique wise Teddy was probably the best.”
He rounded off his comments with more praise for Benteke, who he reckons is unplayable if given the right service.
“He’s and handful isn’t he, anything that comes in the box, if he pulled on to the full back, I don’t think there’s a full back in the league that can cope with him. If we can get quality balls in we know he’s going to score.”
Pardew believes that his palace side can qualify for Europe, and Benteke’s goals will be vital in achieving this aim.
Jason Puncheon’s transformation into a tricky midfield playmaker seems to have worked, while at the back they have a solid core of reasonably good centre backs in the shape of Scott Dann, James Tomkins, and Damien Delaney.
While these names suggest comfortable mid-table rather than a European place, the work of Benteke up front, coupled with the delivery from Wilfried Zaha, Andros Townsend and Joel Ward could see Palace punching above their weight come the end of the season.