Harry Redknapp and midfielder David Bentley have a real dilemma on their hands at the end of the season. It was previously taken for granted that Bentley would be leaving Tottenham sooner rather than later, with his £15-17m move from Blackburn in 2008 considered a failure for both parties. However, Bentley’s form for Tottenham before his injury may just leave both parties with food for thought.
When Redknapp joined Tottenham in October 2008, Bentley was first choice to play right midfield. The Arsenal game is probably the best example of Harry’s feelings, as Bentley started, and scored at the Emirates, with Lennon emerging from the sidelines late on (and whom I believe also claimed a goal). However, Bentley failed to hold down a first team place, and with Lennon offering more pace on the wing, Lennon ended the season as first choice. This season, Lennon had carried on from where he had left off, leaving Bentley with late cameo appearances at best.
Bentley’s career at Tottenham appeared finished once and for all after a friendly match against Grays Athletic, when it appeared the winger wasn’t taking the match seriously, leaving Redknapp questioning the player’s attitude. This all culminated in Bentley being linked with a move away from Spurs in December 2009, Manchester City rumoured his likely destination. Even though the move never materialised, most assumed Bentley would be on his way in the summer. That was of course before Lennon’s injury…
Bentley did not set the world on fire during his run in the side, but his delivery and overall contribution whilst deputising saw Bentley deservedly retain a place in the starting eleven. If Tottenham wish to challenge for a Champions League place and other top honours now and in the future, it’s clear they need to keep players of Bentley’s calibre in the squad. How many teams in the Premier League could have coped so well with Lennon’s absence, maintaining a Champions League assault, and an FA Cup run?
Bentley may have been overpriced at £15m, but when you consider that Lennon cost the club a nominal fee, a combined price of under £20m for the pair does not represent bad business, and averages out. Further, Tottenham would be lucky to receive anything like the fee they paid Blackburn. Whilst Manchester City could have been fleeced easily enough, Mark Hughes is now departed, and Mancini is not known to be interested.
Bentley himself, might not be so eager to stay at Spurs however. In his two seasons with the club he’s made just 26 league starts, and scored just 3 goals. For a player that was once touted successor to David Beckham in the England team, he might well be alarmed at how far his star has fallen. If Lennon is fit, Bentley knows he is simply a squad player, and plenty more friendly fixtures against the likes of Grays Athletic could be the norm if he stays.
Conversely, Bentley might consider Lennon’s recurring groin injury as a factor in his decision. Lennon may well need more rest than Redknapp has been prepared to offer in the past, and with the prospect of European football, Bentley could potentially play a significant role in Tottenham’s season in 2010/11.
However, at 25, whether Bentley is prepared to take that chance is another question…
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