Redknapp: Tottenham crowd has forced David Bentley out
HARRY Redknapp insists that Spurs flop David Bentley “is similar to David Beckham in lots of ways”, but concedes that the Tottenham crowd has forced him out of White Hart Lane.
Despite seemingly shunning a loan move to Birmingham City after having a medical this week, Bentley is still likely to leave this month, having appeared just three times this season.
The 26-year-old came on as a substitute in the 4-2 defeat at Bolton and played the full 90 minutes in the 1-1 draw with Sunderland at the Lane three days later.
However, it was Bentley’s first appearance of the season which persuaded Redknapp that the �15million ex-Arsenal midfielder needed a move away from Tottenham.
Ironically the game in question was against the Gunners, as a weakened Spurs team went down 4-1 after extra-time.
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Bentley played the full 120 minutes but Redknapp was concerned by his treatment from his own fans, and decided after the game to give his disillusioned player an escape route at the turn of the year.
“I played him against Arsenal and he hadn’t played for months. He’d been injured, he came back and played his first game in the Carling Cup and I thought he did well,” said the manager
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“Yet I felt the crowd was on him a bit – they were waiting for him to make a mistake, and it’s not easy when you play like that.
“He was a bit low after the game, I could see that. He was disappointed and I just felt ‘maybe it’s time for him to move on’.”
Redknapp is acutely aware of the importance of the crowd – as he proved two years ago when he discovered the unpopularity of Hossam Ghaly.
Just two months after his arrival in north London, the Spurs boss summoned the Egyptian from the bench during an FA Cup win over Wigan, unaware that he had thrown his shirt to the ground when being substituted by Martin Jol in May 2007.
Ghaly had only played 16 games the following season and the home fans made their displeasure clear as Redknapp prepared to introduce him from the bench at the Lane.
Quickly getting the lowdown from his backroom staff, the Spurs boss told Ghaly to sit back down again. Twenty days later he was loaned to Derby, and the following winter he joined Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr on a free transfer.
Bentley is only leaving Spurs on loan this week but his ‘temporary’ departure may become equally permanent. However, Redknapp insists that the midfielder has the potential to resurrect his career.
“He could move on and do a fantastic job. That’s my honest opinion,” he said. “He can cross it, he can score goals, he can pick a pass.
“He’s got no real pace. He is similar to [David] Beckham in lots of ways, he’s got that unbelievable delivery of the ball. In fact I think I’ll keep him. Screw it, why am I getting Beckham?!”
While that was clearly a joke, there is a serious point to all of this. The nation still waits to see whether Beckham will take to the field for Spurs, or whether his presence will be restricted to the training ground.
But, either way, Redknapp admits that he needs a Beckham-type player – someone who has the accuracy to make the most out of Peter Crouch.
“If I’ve got Crouchy here, there’s no good having him if you can’t put the ball in the right area,” said the manager.
“Peter Crouch’s strength is in the air. People can say whatever they like, but that is his game. If you can’t put the ball in the right areas then it’s not really worth having Crouchy here. That’s my honest opinion.
“I made that clear before we played Everton. After 10 minutes, we hit a ball, Crouchy gets up and heads it, Rafael Van der Vaart comes in and heads the ball in the goal. I thought ‘this is very simple’. I was sitting there for another hour waiting for us to do it again!
Given Redknapp’s apparent frustration with Tottenham’s accuracy from wide areas, his desire to see Beckham on the playing roster is fairly understandable.
And, at the same time, it suddenly becomes slightly more surprising that Bentley has played just 222 minutes this season – particularly if Redknapp feels that his crossing is comparable with Beckham’s.
While Aaron Lennon has been a key player, deservedly holding down his place on the right flank, his final ball has not obviously improved.
And so, if Beckham fails to appear for Tottenham and Bentley leaves, Redknapp will find himself unable to call upon the master or the great pretender to feed his giant.
But, when all is said and done, will he regret his decision to open the exit door for Bentley? Probably not.
After all, as the fans will no doubt point out, Tottenham have got along fine without him. And, as Redknapp, Bentley and Ghaly know, their opinion really does matter.