How do you solve the conundrum of David Bentley?
Where do we even start on this one? Let's go back to the beginning.
There is no shadow of a doubt that at the time David Bentley fitted into the Tottenham criteria as a big-money summer signing.
Player of the moment
With Robbie Keane leaving for Liverpool, we knee-jerked (as we've always done) and spunked £15M on a player that arguably was signed to fill a gap. Just not the one out on the left side. The reason we are perpetual pretenders and usually perpetual perpetual pretenders is because we have a track record of signing superfluous (I love that word) players who are more style than substance. They look the part but don't offer enough strength or intent and in this particular case did not complement what we already had. He simply wasn't needed from the perspective of logic. But then when have we ever done logic? We did once upon a time, but thanks to our revenue, we have always been able to sign the player people expect us to sign rather than the player we desperately need. Although things have changed post-Director of Football.
So, in he came. To his boyhood club. Ex-gooner? We can forgive and forget for that minor indiscretion. But it's here the conundrum begins. He's signed for 15 big ones when he's probably only really worth half of that. He's all smiles, star-jumping, loving it at Spurs, well up for the season. We thrash Roma (I told everyone at the time to keep their panties on, but most wouldn't listen) and he stars. Pre-season is a blast and as far as he's concerned he's the new Beckham in the making. Which is where the conundrum begins to eat away at him.
Bentley, for all the glam and show-boating off the field is a fragile almost glass structure of a man in reality. Easily broken. And it didn’t take long for him to smash into thousands of pieces. Mainly thanks to two points from eight games. Ramos out. Harry in. His form was all over the shop. And Lennon's re-birth was under way. That's Lennon - signed for £1M. That's Lennon, yoof investment that plays on the right-wing. See that Spurs logic? Two right-wingers, neither can truly play on the opposite wing or anywhere else effectively (although Lennon through the middle has worked on occasions) so if one plays, the other won't ever get a look in. There's no scope for mixing it up.
We had that goal in the 4-4 but it failed to disguise the obvious. Bentley was a man playing football from memory of how football should be played if you wanted to be seen as the new Becks. Everything was a show-boat or flick or attempted bullet-turning-corners-in-the-air pass. Nothing was basic. Nothing was simple. His form continued to degrade. With Azza tearing it up, there was no reason to even consider Bentley for the right wing. Yet he still found time to kick balls off roofs into skips.
At this point, possibly, not sure - it might have always been there but only manifested because of the pressure of football…David cited 'personal problems' for his lack of form. Are these problems because of his form or is there something outside of football bringing him down? Not our business tbh, I'm not going to speculate. Either way, the club and people around him should support him. As for the fans, well, we are fickle lot. In some ways, we see footballers as commodities, representatives of our club and demand 100% because they're millionaires thanks to people like us and blah blah blah. But the moaning and groaning and the internet-slating was completely in full effect. As ever, because of the weight of expectation - everyone was losing patience. And David continued to lose all hope.
In the summer, we had an alleged interview which was apparently conducted without the player knowing he was being interviewed (nice under-hand tactics there by the reporter) which IMO would deem it completely void of importance as anyone can be mis-quoted in this cheap shot way. The suggestion was Bentley was looking for a move to Villa. And yet, he's still with us. Even after his car crash. A wake-up call apparently, that doesn't appear to have made a difference with his quality of football. And why should it? We don't even have a reserve team for him to play in. His quality remains distinctly average. Which is what you expect from a player who appears lost and without direction.
Not playing games will do little to increase interest in him and his value will be nowhere near the £15M mark this time round if we are looking to sell him in Jan. He wasn't that bad against Utd the other night. Average yes, but not terrible. Just a disappointing, not helped by the fact that he had little to aim for when he crossed the ball in.
I'm not sure there's a way to solve this conundrum. At the moment there are plenty of fans who still want him to succeed. Why would you not? He obviously has the talent to do so. But he's sadly the right player for the wrong team. If Lennon didn't exist, he might well be dominating the right-wing for us. There is no room for him at Spurs. He's a Lego brick sitting in amongst a jigsaw puzzle.
A move away would reignite him, for sure. It's the way football tends to work. He'll go somewhere and the pressure wont be as harsh and relentless and he'll re-discover his spark.
It's time for goodbye. Just a quick hug. How do you solve this conundrum? You don't. You just hand it over to someone else and admit defeat.