Confidence drives Bentley

AP

The right-winger has endured a difficult first season at Spurs, with a wonder-goal against Arsenal proving the only highlight of his start to life at White Hart Lane, writes Tim Clement.

David Bentley has never been one to shy away from attention having compared himself in the past to the likes of Dennis Bergkamp and David Beckham. But having lost his place for club and country, the Tottenham midfielder appears to be suffering a crisis of confidence.

The right-winger has endured a difficult first season at Spurs, with a wonder-goal against Arsenal proving the only highlight of his start to life at White Hart Lane.

When the winger arrived at Tottenham for around GBP15 million from Blackburn last summer he looked set for a key role in the first team. However, he has largely failed to reproduce the form that saw him earn international recognition with England during his time at Ewood Park, with boss Harry Redknapp seemingly running out of patience with his disappointing displays.

Bentley first burst onto the scene as a youngster with Arsenal but failed to ever make the breakthrough with the Gunners and following loan spells first at Norwich and then Blackburn he made the permanent move to Ewood Park in 2006.

During his time in the English northwest he won rave reviews for his performances, as well as making the step up into the England set-up.

Blackburn was keen to keep him but it was little surprise when Spurs came calling to take him to London in a big-money move last year. However, his limited chances at Tottenham have not been aided by the resurgence of pacey winger Aaron Lennon, who has been in sensational form of late for Spurs and produced an eye-catching display against Manchester United in the English Carling Cup final.

The same match saw Bentley hit a low with Spurs, missing the final penalty in a shoot-out defeat. But Bentley’s courage to step up to the spot when many around him shrugged the responsibility gives an insight into the strength of his character.

That is certainly a view held by team-mate Didier Zokora, who believes with the support of Redknapp, Bentley will bounce back and prove his worth.

“David Bentley needs the confidence of the manager. When the player has the confidence, he wants to play 100 per cent,” Zokora said. “For him, it is difficult, but he can come back quickly. He is a strong personality, and he brings a great atmosphere to the dressing room, because he talks to everybody.”

Bentley’s problems on the pitch have seemingly not been helped by additional ones off it, with forwards’ coach Les Ferdinand revealing recently that the winger has his share of off-field issues as well.

“He’s had personal problems and things like that and, when things are not going right in your home life, it’s very difficult to go to work and forget about those things,” Ferdinand was quoted as saying in the British press.

It is a vast contrast to the man who was tipping himself to challenge Beckham for his place to the right side of England’s midfield not so long ago, or even the youngster at Arsenal who targeted Bergkamp’s role.

Now, though, Bentley must knuckle down for Tottenham and show yet again that he has the character to bounce back. The 24-year-old suffered criticism from England supporters and coach Stuart Pearce in 2007 when he withdrew from the squad for that summer’s Euro Under-21 championships, citing fatigue.

Unlike many WAGs, Bentley’s girlfriend Kimberley Mills tends to keep herself out of the media spotlight and described the UK television show Footballers’ Wives as a “load of rubbish.” Bentley drives a BMW 6 Series V8 3-litre.

Factfile Name: David Bentley Position: Midfielder Club: Tottenham D.O.B.: 27/08/1984 England caps: 9 England goals: 0 England debut: September 8, 2007 v Israel Moment to remember

Bentley has not given Spurs fans too many great memories with his disappointing displays this season but he will be forever remembered for his stunning 40-yard wonder-goal against Arsenal in the dramatic 4-4 draw at the Emirates earlier this season.

Moment to forget

Bentley’s confidence crisis received its harshest blow when he attempted to be a hero for Spurs in the Carling Cup final by taking the team’s third penalty in a shoot-out against Manchester United. He missed and United clinched the trophy.

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