Friday, March 13, 2009

Bentley's Nightmare of a Season

This was certainly not what David Bentley had in mind when he moved to Tottenham this past summer from Blackburn. His big money arrival was trumpeted throughout the English press, and the fact that he was coming to play for his boyhood team just made the story all the more compelling.

But the feel good story of the summer went south when the season actually started. I was curious where Bentley was going to fit into the side when we bought him, but decided to see where Ramos deployed him. But the fact that Bentley came into the club, to seemingly challenge the place of Aaron Lennon, motivated Lennon to become the player that we've thought he could be and therefore banished Bentley to the left-side, where he is ill-suited at best, or worse the bench.

Short of the wonder goal that he scored at Arsenal, we have seen none of the quality that he displayed at Blackburn last year. In fact, the flicks that used to serve him well have done nothing to endear him to Spurs supporters, as most often these flicks have been intercepted by the other team.

I think the low point for him had to be last week, first in the Carling Cup, when he was brought on only because Lennon cramped up, and then missed the penalty that he stepped up to take. To follow that up, when he was announced as a substitute against Boro in the middle of the week, the supporters booed him, and I suspect Harry wasn't going to bring him off the bench unless his life depended on it at that point.

Where has it gone wrong for someone who was recently in the England squad and hyped as the next great English right-winger? Well the first answer would be having to play on the left side. It is tough to work your way into a new team even when you are playing a position you feel comfortable in, much less on the opposite side of the field. Yes, professionals should be able to play with both feet, but as clearly demonstrated by Pascal Chimbonda against Sunderland that is not the case.

I think part of the problems could also stem from the fact that he was a purchase by Juande Ramos. When he was relieved of his duties, I am sure many of those players that he signed were left thinking "What now?" as Harry came into the club. Luka Modric has come on strong, but he has been shuffled around the field as Harry has looked for his best position, and he's been the best of the signings.

Look at the returns from the other Ramos imports. Gomes has been a shambles in the nets for us, and though he is rebounding a bit, I don't expect to see him at the club next year. Givanni Dos Santos was another high profile coup for Ramos, and has found himself on the outside of the squad looking in since Harry came in. Vedran Corluka has acquitted himself well as our right-back and I think Roman Pavlyuchenko will become a good striker for us over time, but the results haven't been there this season.

So Bentley is a square-peg for a round hole to use a cliche. He is not Harry's player, and most of us were aware with some of his attitude problems at the beginning of the season, which didn't endear him to Harry we are sure. I have little doubt than when Harry was complaining about players who didn't "get stuck in" or have "the heart and fight" that the club needed he was pointing the finger at Bentley, who seemed more concerned with flicks and tricks than tackles at the beginning of the year.

The rumors are all over that Bentley is on his way out after just one season, with the Villans being the likely destination for him. Is that really necessary? How little patience are we showing if we are ready to run a player out of town after just one year? I will admit I am not a huge fan of Bentley, I like all fans have my favorite players, and he isn't one of them, but the stick that he has received is not fair. I think in many cases he has been made the scapegoat for the troubles that have plagued the club all year.

I don't think we are going to see Bentley playing in a Spurs shirt next year, I think Harry's mind has been made up, but I feel bad that he hasn't had time to settle and show us what he can do. He is a talented player, which is probably the most frustrating part of this ordeal. He can hack it, but just hasn't so far. Over time Bentley will probably look back on Spurs year as a nightmare, and so will many of the supporters.

But I don't want us to be too hasty in showing him the door this summer, because if Liverpool make an audacious bid for Lennon, and offer him Champions League football, he might want to leave, no matter how much Harry insists he will keep our big players at the club. He could become like Michael Carrick, a player who wants to move on even if we want to keep him, and we might have to let him go. At that point, we would definitely need to keep Bentley, because given an extended run as the right winger, he could be a player for Spurs after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment