West Ham’s Bentley lets ’em have it, but Allardyce wants to see more
Despite missing a sitter, David Bentley impressed Hammers boss Sam Allardyce on Saturday at Millwall.
David Bentley has never been a prolific scorer despite being an attacking player who was the first to score a Premier League hat-trick against mighty Manchester United.
His tally of 30 goals in nearly 250 appearances means he hits the target every eight or so matches, but when the ball fell to his feet barely eight yards out on Saturday at Millwall, most would have expected the ball to hit the net.
There were just 14 minutes to go in this absorbing London derby showdown when Julien Faubert blasted a low shot goalwards and keeper David Forde could only parry it into the path of the man on loan from Spurs.
He was under pressure from a defender and he had only been on for 15 minutes, but when Bentley’s moment of glory arrived, he fluffed his lines and could only send his shot wide of the post.
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Bentley had surprisingly replaced Matt Taylor on the left side of midfield, but he had given West Ham some fresh attacking impetus and manager Sam Allardyce was delighted with his contribution, despite that miss.
“I think his confidence has picked up,” said the manager after Saturday’s 0-0 draw. “He is looking for the ball all the time and he started to give us more attacking options down the left hand side when he came on, freeing up some space for George McCartney.
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“He delivered a great cross into the box for Kevin Nolan where there was a brilliant piece of defending and then obviously he got into the box for the chance to score a goal, so I am very pleased.”
It was Allardyce when he was Blackburn manager who helped Bentley to the heights of performance that earned him a big-money move to Tottenham in the summer of 2008 and the boss is hoping that he can inspire the player to the same sort of performances in his time at Upton Park.
“We are hoping to resurrect his career and produce the sort of form I used to him watch him do at Blackburn Rovers which got him the big move that he was looking for – he was a �15million player three years ago,” said Allardyce.
Things have gone rapidly downhill since that move to White Hart Lane. He started just 50 games in three years in north London and was even shipped out to Birmingham City for an unsuccessful loan spell last term.
“You can’t lose your quality, but what you can lose is your confidence and when you do that, nobody sees the quality anymore,” explained Allardyce, who is clearly a big fan of the winger.
“It is still there, so we will give him the confidence, some tlc and hopefully we will bring the best out of him again, because his best in this division should and will be outstanding.”
Bentley certainly had his moments in the half hour he played on Saturday. If you ignore that miss, he did get into the box, beat his man and one pull back for Nolan would surely have resulted in a goal had the Millwall defence not tracked back superbly to deny the West Ham captain.
Allardyce wants to see more of that attacking from Bentley.
“I’m encouraging him to get at his man, beat him and continue to drive forward rather than check back, cut inside and go sideways,” said the boss. “I want to keep him as far up the field as possible because when we get him in the final third as we saw today, he can be dangerous.”
Bentley arrived at Upton Park without having played for Spurs this term, but the manager is pleased with what he has seen from it.
“He’s fitter than I expected him to be, naturally fit I think,” said Allardyce. “He hasn’t played a lot of pre-season games, but in training he looks up for it, he’s not anything other than 100 per cent committed in training.”
Allardyce is a man manager. He knows that Bentley is low on confidence and it is his job to inspire the player back to his former heights. If anyone can do it then the West Ham manager can.
“When you are forgotten at a football club then you can become depressed as a footballer and you forget what it is like to experience the joys of waking up on a Saturday morning and being selected to play,” he said.
“Life for footballers is about being excited about picked for the first team, irrespective of what some people say that they are just happy to pick their money up, they’re not, they want to play.
“David wasn’t playing and needed to take an opportunity with us to get back into first team football. We’ve introduced him a couple of times from the bench now and when he gets his chance to start then he has got to keep his shirt when he gets that chance.”
After Saturday’s display, despite that miss, his first start is not likely to be far away.
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