John Bostock’s short career so far has been surrounded by controversy. Not anything sleazy, unlike some footballers in this country, but there are a few questions about the way the Tottenham midfielder has gone about his business over the last couple of years. When he moved from his boyhood club, Crystal Palace, in 2007 there was outcry from the Eagles’ fans who felt let down by the youngster’s decision to move after he had claimed to love the club. Of course, most people could understand his decision to join a bigger side, but it still hurt the supporters at Selhurst Park. And to make matters worse, the Championship club were given what they thought to be an outrageous sum of just £700,000, for a player they had brought through their youth ranks, by way of a tribunal.
Since joining Spurs it has been difficult for the England under-19 international to establish himself at all in the first team squad. After becoming both Palace’s and Tottenham’s youngest ever player it was a meteoric rise for the Lambeth-born star, but his career path has certainly slowed and after a spell on loan with Brentford this season his attitude was brought into question. After a great start in West London where he scored twice on his debut things did not carry on in the same vein and Brentford decided against extending Bostock’s loan period.
And this led to Harry Redknapp looking back at previous times when he had sent young players out on loan for them to go on and make a real impact.
“Brentford haven’t renewed the loan. He was on the bench on Saturday and the Saturday before. If they’re not playing well enough then they don’t get picked, do they? I keep harping back to when I loaned boys like Rio and Frank out. Frank went to Swansea and was fantastic. Michael Carrick was at Swindon and I was getting calls saying they’d not seen anyone like him since Glenn Hoddle.
“And then you know you’ve got a player, don’t you? That’s what you’re looking for when you loan them out, you’re looking for them to make a real impact wherever they go. It’s a different kind of football but Frank did it when he was at Swansea. I went down to see him play at the Vetch, ankle-deep mud, and he was fantastic. It didn’t bother him, he got on with it. You have to adjust. He’s got terrific ability, you just hope he will do it. Maybe I need to get him working and training with the first XI, get him in the squad and see what he can do.”
So what was the problem with Bostock’s loan? Why didn’t the 18-year-old make the impact that he should have done? It is easy to forget how young he is but he is meant to be one of the brightest prospects in the English game, yet couldn’t properly establish himself at a League One club. Is it a case of him thinking he is too good for that level? Or have Spurs not developed him in the way they should have? Maybe it is harsh to expect him to deliver in such a short space of time in a completely different environment to one that he is used to. But he will need to start living up to that huge potential sooner rather than later if he isn’t to be another youngster heading out of White Hart Lane before his Spurs career ever got going.