David Bentley needs to take his career back to the future

At the age of 27, David Bentley should be in his prime, the creative hub of a side with Champions League aspirations, with an eye on the upcoming European Championships. Instead, he is looking to kick start a career that has been steadily declining in recent years, with designs on loan spells at the likes of MK Dons and the MLS.

A rare English prospect from the Arsenal production line, Bentley emerged fully formed by scoring a sublime lob against Middlesbrough in the FA Cup in 2004, although his path to regular first team football was blocked by the likes of Robert Pires and Freddie Ljunberg. He spent the following season on loan at Norwich City, featuring in 26 games and scoring twice as the Canaries were relegated, Bentley returned to Arsenal and promptly handed in a transfer request.

He joined Blackburn Rovers on loan in the summer of 2005, making the arrangement permanent in the subsequent January transfer window. Under the stewardship of Mark Hughes, Bentley looked to be fulfilling his undoubted potential and Blackburn reaped the benefits, finishing sixth, tenth and seventh during his three years at the club. He provided a total of 15 goals and 26 assists during his second and third seasons, breaking in to the England set up during Steve McClaren’s reign.

The departure of Mark Hughes to Manchester City resulted in Bentley declaring his desire to follow a similarly upward trajectory, resulting in a swoop by Tottenham Hotspur manager Juande Ramos, in a six-year deal, confirmed as worth between £15-17m. A few weeks later, Ramos departed and Harry Redknapp was installed, Bentley has since struggled to ingratiate himself, with Aaron Lennon favoured on the right wing. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Bentley revealed his motivations behind the move to Spurs and shed light on the problems he has encountered in securing regular first team football.

“There were so many pluses to it,” explained Bentley. “I wanted to play for them, (Juande) Ramos was there. It was purely for football. When I turned up there, the place was in turmoil. Ramos was sacked after eight games. I was so passionate about going to Spurs, doing well, being guided by this manager who was going to be the Spanish Arsene Wenger. I didn’t deal with his sacking very well. I took it to heart. I just got down and I was holding on to the past. All of a sudden I was in a relegation battle with Spurs, playing right back. That wasn’t the plan. Then Harry came in, Aaron Lennon came in, too, and it just got progressively worse for me.”

A mere 42 appearances, scattered across two and a half years, resulted in the demise of his international prospects and a loan spell at Birmingham, where he: “flattered to deceive and too many mistakes and lapses in concentration across the board, all season, proved costly” according to the Birmingham Mail. Knee surgery ended his recent, all too brief loan spell at West Ham, having returned to Spurs, he is looking for another loan spell to aid his rehabilitation. Burdened by substantial wages and a reputation for being a disruptive influence, rebuilding his reputation and salvaging a career that promised so much may now require a few backwards steps before he can further progress is on the agenda.

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