A follow up from To the Lane and Back’s piece on who is expected to leave in January. Naturally, we believed that the quartet Heurelho Gomes, Sebastien Bassong, Giovani Dos Santos and Roman Pavlyuchenko will be looking for greener pastures in the new year then a comment on the article caught my eye; what about David Bentley and Jermaine Jenas?
Now, if they were still part of the Spurs set-up, which technically both are one way or another, and had featured for the first team much like the aforementioned foursome were, then the two would have naturally been included.
But, Jenas is currently on loan with Aston Villa while Bentley, who was with West Ham United, is currently nursing a knee problem and is expected to be sidelined for the next 5-6 months, all but ruling him out of any first-team duties this year. Nevertheless, To the Lane and Back will now have a gander as to where the duo will be come May.
Jenas, at around £8m, arrived at White Hart Lane in 2005 full of promise and potential. His vision, passing, shooting and stamina were all the right attributes of a great centre-midfielder in the making. Many compared him to Paul Scholes and some even expected him to break into the national set-up as a starter, let alone a squad player.
Having left Newcastle United, due to the ‘fish bowl’ living quarters on the Tyne, it took a few months for Jenas to really adjust to his new surroundings and after a few abject displays in the midfield, fans were wondering why the club had spent so much on a player who looked way out of his depth at Spurs. However, one 45 minute display later in the 2-0 win over Everton that season saw him win the fans over, so much so that as a young boy, the moment the game ended I begged my Dad for the third kit with ‘Jenas, 8’ on the back.
Yet, his performance against the Toffee’s is the only real display that sticks out during his six-year spell at White Hart Lane. Despite showing the odd glimpse of brilliance (scoring against Arsenal, this became a habit for him in fact) he never really lived up to the massive hype surrounding him. A majority of the Spurs support began to lament the former Nottingham Forest trainee claiming that ‘for every 1 great game he has, you will see 10 rubbish ones’. They weren’t far wrong, every transfer window passed and as the clock ticked over 12 a.m. GMT in August or January, the fans continued to question as to why he was still part of the Spurs set-up.
Billed as a highly rated youngster, many feel the pressure to live up to expectations got to him and he couldn’t shoulder the responsibility that was placed upon him at such a young-age. This is evident during games against the ‘bigger’ sides when, more often than not, he would cower into a shell, looking more fearful of the raging crowd than thriving off it that the better players in the game tend to do.
With his pace, which he packs in abundance, breaking from the midfield to attack should be a simple task for him but when he receives the ball, he more often than not slows it down rather than speeds it up, looking for a sideways or backwards pass instead of risking a defence splitting ball for fear of being criticised if it goes wrong. Now with Villa, he has a chance to really rebuild his credentials under Alex McLeish and, for the first time this season is included in the squad for the Villians weekend fixture. It will be interesting to see how he fairs at Villa Park and a majority of Spurs fans will surely wish him all the best but, with the arrival of Scott Parker and emergence of Jake Livermore and Tom Carroll, if his temporary move isn’t made permanent in the summer, you can guarantee he won’t be hanging around the Spurs lodge for long.
The self-proclaimed ‘new David Beckham’ joined Spurs in 2008 from Blackburn Rovers in an record-equalling £16.5m deal. Arriving with all the potential to really succeed the former England captain, Bentley never really found his feet at White Hart Lane and struggled to really stake a regular claim for a starting spot. At Blackburn, he was one of the most talked about players to grace the Premiership with a host of clubs tracking his progress. However, as a Spurs fan there was only ever going to be one choice on which club he joined.
Bought in by Juande Ramos, Bentley started his career at Spurs brightly, netting in the emphatic pre-season 5-1 rout of Italian giants AS Roma. His performance on the afternoon left fans smiling from ear-to-ear with the prospect of the former Arsenal trainee occupying the right-flank, while causing the opposition defence real problems with his delivery and dangerous set-pieces. However, while fans were expecting the world from the winger, he failed to put in any real noteworthy performances and, like Jenas, whenever he received the ball he seemed to slow down play rather than trouble the opposing back-four.
The form of Aaron Lennon at the time didn’t help him settle into his new surroundings and it was only when the England man was injured that Bentley really got his chance to prove his worth to Redknapp. And while he put in some decent performances, none of them stood out in particular and it is no surprise that Lennon reclaimed his spot on the right when he returned to fitness. He has been given to stake his claim but he never really convinced Redknapp that he deserved to start regularly, while the fans were quick to criticise his lack of pace and immobility on the wing, especially when a player is expected to really stretch the full-back, not attempt an early ball at every opportunity only to find it comfortably cleared or completely bypass the ensuing attacker.
He did temporarily endear himself to the Spurs faithful, however, with THAT 50-yard half volley over Arsenal and even though it was temporary reprieve from the harshest of critics, he failed to grasp the opportunity to build on this and leave a lasting memory on the Spurs fans. A loan move to Birmingham City last January was expected to see the player build his confidence back up, while giving him some much needed game-time, but instead of glowing reviews for his performances, Bentley failed to live up to the hype at St. Andrews and, following the Midlands side’s relegation to the Championship, the loan deal failed to materialise into a permanent one.
A further short-team switch to West Ham United failed dramatically for Bentley, who found himself benched rather starting for the East London side who look better without him in the starting XI than they do with him in it. A major knee injury, however, has all but curtailed his season with the Hammers sending him back to Spurs for the remainder of the season. It remains to be seen whether he player again this season, or even for the North London club for that matter. The club desperately tried to offload him permanently over the summer but no concrete offer from any team came in and the loan deal cut prematurely short, Spurs will have to try even harder than the previous summer to get Bentley off the wage bill. Nonetheless, expect him to depart next year, whether it is in January or the summer, Redknapp clearly doesn’t fancy him in his squad and it appears that anything Bentley does won’t get him to change his mind.