After Tottenham debacle…where did it all go wrong?

Free agent David BentleyAsked in May 2007 whether he could see why well-respected figures within football were dubbing David Bentley the ‘new David Beckham’, Steve McClaren gave this response to the Lancashire Telegraph.

“I can see that (comparison),” said the then England manager.

“His right foot is pretty similar to David’s. He’s got a great touch, great feel on the ball, and he can deliver that pass.

“But he’s still got a long way to go before he emulates anything that David (Beckham) has done.”

Unfortunately for the boy from Peterborough, that last statement has been proven utterly correct.

Since leaving Blackburn Rovers at the end of July 2008, for whom he featured on 131 occasions, Bentley has made just 97 professional appearances.

And now the 28-year-old appears to be on the verge of a move to either FC Utrecht or Espanyol, a world apart from Real Madrid who Beckham joined at the same age.

Bentley’s career started so brightly. A debut for Arsenal, where he had made his way through the ranks, came at just 18 years of age, and his first goal for the Gunners was a fine lob from 18 yards over veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

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An exciting season followed for Bentley, who spent the year on loan at Norwich, where he performed well in a side which just missed out on avoiding relegation.

Fans may remember that the winger even managed to get seven England caps to his name. The last of those was awarded on 20 August, 2008 however, when he appeared for 12 minutes against Czech Republic.

A coincidence that Bentley dropped off the international radar around the same time as his £15million move to Tottenham then?

According to the man himself, the writing was on the wall after he infamously poured a bucket of water over Harry Redknapp, then manager at White Hart Lane, during a live interview in 2009, following Spurs’ victory away at Manchester City which saw them claim a Champions League spot.

Bentley told The Mirror last year: “It was all good natured. But he definitely didn’t see it like that. It was a celebration and nothing more.

“That season, I’d played 20 games up until that point and we got into the Champions League. I’d started 15 games in a row and, even though I didn’t start that game, we were just celebrating a brilliant achievement.

“He never said anything to my face about it – he didn’t really ever say much to me at all – but I knew I was always up against it after that.

“I hardly got another look-in.”

That antic was one which summed up Bentley’s attitude as far as Redknapp was concerned.

The now boss of Queens Park Rangers was outspoken on more than one occasion about what he saw as Bentley’s playboy-type lifestyle.

Back in 2009, after Bentley had been arrested for drink driving, Redknapp said: “David has great ability but he needs some good advice. He doesn’t need to be getting involved in nightclubs.

“He should look at Modric, who just concentrates on getting on with job – and this is what I’d like to see from him: a focus on playing well for Tottenham.

“He told me that in one sense, the arrest was the best thing that has happened to him, to wake him up, but talk is cheap.”

While it seemed inevitable Bentley would be without a look-in under Redknapp, the former Premier League Manager of the Year moved on to pastures new in June last year.

So what of Bentley’s career the past season?

It began with a “fresh start” in Russia at FC Rostov.

“I think there’s a big stigma around me in England,” Bentley said in September last year. “The picture that Tottenham painted of me was so wrong.

“It’s time for a fresh start – get rid of those shackles and get away from England for a while to go to somewhere to be judged on what I can do on the pitch rather than something that’s completely wrong about me.”

Having played a full 90 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Dynamo Moscow on his debut, things seemed to be progressing slightly, but an ankle injury reduced him to just eight appearances for the eastern European side.

February brought about a chance to mend Bentley’s career at the place where he had first made waves in the English game – Ewood Park.

However, he made only seven appearances during his 93-day loan period, unable to light up Blackburn as he once had.

Since that time, he has finally been released by Tottenham.

Can the man who was once at the forefront of a future English generation recapture his form of old by moving abroad then?

Judging by comments he made last year regarding his international future, Bentley believes he can, so long as he is starting on a regular basis.

“I still believe I can play at that level but I’ve just got to be given the chance to play regularly again.” And maybe yet another move away from the Premier League might do just that.

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