David Bentley – the biggest flop since Sheva

There was a lot of head scratching when Damien Comolli – the former director at Spurs who finally got the boot when Ramos was sacked – brought in David Bentley for 16 million pounds. After all Spurs already had the next England right midfielder in Aaron Lennon. But Bentley was seen as the “next David Beckham” and it was seen around the league as quite a coup for Spurs to sign a player of his promise.

He has without a doubt been the biggest flop of the last few years – on par with Shevchenko (After all in terms of resources, 16 million pounds for Spurs is probably proportionate in value to 30 for Chelsea – if that makes any sense). I haven’t felt this strongly about a Spurs player since Paul Robinson. It is time for Bentley to go.

The summer when Bentley arrived I was promised by a Blackburn-loving friend that Bentley was “class” and that his tricks with the ball and his ability to put in Beckham-like crosses made him a great signing. When Spurs imploded at the start last season, Bentley really failed to impress. But maybe that was simply due to Ramos’ incompetence and that with a new manager Bentley would thrive, or so the optimistic thinking went. In came Harry Redknapp, who after giving Bentley a run in a number of games eventually relegated him to the bench. He came off last year in an away game, to shouts from Spurs traveling supporters “what a waste of money.” Sometimes fans have it wrong, this time they had it right.

Against Arsenal on Saturday, Bentley showed that he just can’t cut it against top level competition. He is the classic player that can shine at one level and be horrible at the next. Think David Healy, formerly with Fulham, a perfect championship striker. Or for the Yanks, Duke’s Christian Lattener or Florida’s Danny Wuerffel, Ohio State’s Troy Smith… to think of it almost any college quarterback that wins the Heisman. Against weaker competition he can perhaps shine – I have yet to see it however, although apparently against Everton in the League Cup he played well. But against top quality opponents he simply doesn’t have it.

Bentley’s main problem is that he doesn’t have the pace to put any team in danger on the wing. The pace and tenacity of Gael Clichy just totally neutralized him on Saturday. Against top quality defenders that pressure him, he simply can’t make any space. Furthermore, his vaunted crossing ability has never been evident at Spurs. Against Arsenal he floated ball after ball and botched too many corners. Finally, his “tricks” and back heels and flicks rarely accomplish anything. While Beckham made up for his lack of pace with a tremendous work-rate, there is nothing special about Bentley’s. As the BBC’s Robbo Robinson put it: “David Bentley, one 45-yarder notwithstanding, is slowly diminishing into a kind of Brylcreemed mannequin. If there are still people out there who think the lad Beckham is a lazy publicity-seeker you only have to look to Spurs’s right flank for the truth: Beckham – Hard Work = Bentley.”

The truth of the matter is that if he were not English he would have never been bought. And if he were not English he would toil on the bench and no one would think anything of it. Everyone wants players from their own country to be given every chance to succeed. We are all apologists for our countrymen and we all want them to get second and third chances to prove their quality – if Eddie Johnson got another chance Mr. Hodgson I promise he would do really really well. But the only ones that seem to get those chances in this league are English players.

Bentley should have never seen the pitch on Saturday, especially with a healthy Niko Krancjar on the bench. He should be sold this winter to another premier league team with an English manager who “believes in him.” To me he is just not good enough and the worst Spurs player since Paul Robinson – another Englishman who got a pass because he was “England’s number 1” for a time, in America he would have been the 5th best keeper in MLS. Time to move on.


One Response

  1. He should never have left the mighty Rovers. Like Duff, Bellamy, Shearer, Sutton, and Dunn (who returned), he had his best years at Blackburn.

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