It rather sums up David Bentley’s Tottenham career that when I went onto Newsnow this morning to read about his exploits last night, I found this story on the Tottenham feed. Talk about constantly attracting negative publicity.
In Bentley’s first season, he was met with two main problems. Firstly he seemed like he felt under pressure to justify his fee and was constantly trying the spectacular, which worked brilliantly against Arsenal, but no one else. Yes, he’s a skillful player, but the comparisons to Beckham were also largely down to his ability to do the simple things well and graft a bit.
Secondly, he was met by Aaron Lennon, who when put under the added pressure of Bentley’s signing, upped his game accordingly. Eventually Lennon was playing so well, it was just impossible to give Bentley any opportunities on the right wing.
In the summer it seemed likely that he might move on to the likes of Villa or Manchester City, but no one would stump up the sort of fee we wanted for him and so he started the new term with us. The most noticeable thing that he did in the first half of the season was to drive his car into a lamppost.
His performance against Manchester United in the Carling Cup seemed to encapsulate his Spurs career. Nothing came off for him, leaving me and I’m sure many other Spurs fans to get angrier and angrier, as he continued taking every set-piece, despite his lack of any success.
In a behind closed doors friendly against Grays, Harry also lost his rag with Bentley, as he accused the player of taking the piss with his constant back heeling.
It looked likely that he might be on his way again during January and perhaps he might have if Mark Hughes had kept his job at Manchester City. Instead no one came in for him and unexpectedly, he got one last chance at redemption. With Lennon injured and Kranjcar ill, Bentley returned to the side against Fulham.
We looked the better for the natural width Bentley provided and much to everyone’s surprise, he played pretty well and even scored with a deflected free kick. He started again against Birmingham and was our most dangerous player, before last night’s game against Leeds, that saw him set up two goals and be crowned man of the match.
Perhaps it took the indignity of Redknapp losing his temper in front of a bunch of part timers, to shake Bentley up a bit. It was doubtful that another chance would come for him at Spurs, but like him or not, you can’t help but be impressed with the way he’s grabbed it with both hands.
It’s still only three good games and we will need to see plenty more like them before Bentley starts repaying the millions we shelled out for him. There’s also the little matter of what will happen when Lennon returns to fitness. Such has been the little man’s form over the last 18 months, that Bentley will have to be playing out of his skin to keep him out of the side.
So whilst it’s perhaps a little too early to start talking about a possible return for England, as ITV’s commentary team did last night, it’s interesting to ponder if Bentley can really have a future at White Hart Lane.
Is it always going to be a case that Bentley and Lennon are just too good to both be at the same club, when they both only seem comfortable in the same position?
Or can they coexist? If we want Champions League football we’re going to have a large number of fixtures against top quality opposition. That means more squad rotation and the inevitable injuries. In that scenario, will we need two international quality players for every position?
Have your say below. Does Bentley have a future at White Hart Lane, or should we try again to cut our losses in the summer? If there’s one thing for sure, it’s that Bentley’s improved performances might make some other Premier League managers take another look at him.