Friday, August 14, 2009

How are the (self-supposed) mighty fallen...

How indeed.

Just fifteen short months ago, footballer David Bentley, then of Blackburn Rovers, had the world at his undoubtedly talented feet. He had just finished a successful season with his club and, having broken into the England team, was being spoken of as the 'new David Beckham'.

Those of us as interested in the back pages of the newspapers as we are in the front ones could not avoid acres of coverage, in which he explained, amongst other things, his love of DIY and how he overcame a gambling problem.

At the same time, those same articles began to mention that Bentley saw his footballing future away from Lancashire, at one of the four clubs then (and now) capable of launching a challenge for a Champions' League place, where he could also improve his international chances.

He and his agent began to openly court such a move, against the undoubtedly wiser (and possibly hypocrtical) counsel of his then manager, Mark Hughes, who, having advised him to stay at Ewood Park for at least another year, himself left the club for Manchester City and Thaksin Shinawatra's allegedly bloodstained Baht. Irrespective of that advice from a man who's pedigree was there to be respected, Bentley and his advisors believed their own publicity and the agitation for a move gathered pace.

Unfortunately for Bentley, none of the top four clubs were interested in acquiring his services, but then up popped Juande Ramos' Tottenham - the club Bentley supposedly supported as a boy - with a bid of fifteen million pounds, and the deal was swiftly done.

Indeed, by the time the transfer went through, I know a good many Blackburn fans who would have willingly taken the day off work, filled their car with petrol and driven him to London themselves, simply to rid their club of his disruptive presence.

Bentley described the transfer as his 'dream' move, but all too quickly from his perspective, the dream began to sour. For whatever reason - it is alleged that juvenile stupidity during an England get-together may have played a part - the famously professional Fabio Cappello jettisoned him from the national squad, never to return.

So far, so bad, but worse was to come. Ramos went the way of all flesh after a disastrous start to the season which saw Tottenham bottom of the league, to be replaced by everybody's favourite Cockney geezer, 'appy 'arry Redknapp, who quickly decided that Bentley had no place in his best (or indeed any) Spurs eleven and promptly dropped him.

Further humiliation was heaped on Bentley when, selected to play in the Carling Cup tie at Burnley - Blackburn Rovers nearest neighbours and fiercest rivals - he was withdrawn at half time, following a performance of quite unique incompetence.

To compound matters, from Easter onwards, Redknapp made it clear that Bentley had no future at Spurs, and was actively advising him to seek employment at another club, in order to 'rebuild' his career; the footballing equivalent of a failed X Factor audition.

So, twelve months after ignoring the advice of a man who had managed him into the England side, Bentley had lost his England place, lost his place in the Spurs team and had been told in no uncertain terms that he was surplus to requirements at White Hart Lane.

Then this happened.

Well at least he'll be able to afford a driver to take him to training whilst he serves his latest disqualification, but as I have titled this post 'how are the mighty fallen'.

I wonder if he wishes now that he'd followed Mark Hughes' advice and stayed at Blackburn for another year...


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