After a bit of a blog break, I thought it time to reflect on the past couple of weeks, and talk about the one thing that really struck me amongst the furore around Theo’s international hattrick. And that was David Bentley’s reaction.
If you get another chance to see the highlights, take a look as Walcott is substituted. The camera pans across the bench where, to a man, the players are warmly applauding as the hero leaves the pitch. There is one exception – Bentley is sitting there, looking as sulky as is humanly possible, clear annoyance and bitterness on his face.
Now of course Walcott’s emergence threatens Bentley’s place in the side, but a true professional desires team success over personal glory. Contrast his reaction to that of the oncoming sub, David Beckham, whose international career Theo is helping to close. Beckham is grinning from ear to ear, congratulating the man on his fantastic night’s work.
Say what you like about Beckham, but there’s little doubt that a) he is an absolute professional, and b) he is desperate for England to succeed, even if it means his own appearances are limited.
Bentley, on the other hand, has the best years of his career ahead of him but once again seems to be reacting extremely poorly to competition, much like he did at Arsenal when he demanded to leave because he couldn’t oust the Pires-Ljungberg combination. He also recently suggested Walcott do the same for the sake of his career, clearing missing the point that Walcott is a) a brighter prospect and b) a more level headed individual.
Players who respond to adversity positively succeed. Walcott himself has, after the difficult period following his World Cup call up and the pressures that brought. Bentley is from the Diarra school, a self-important man who will probably never fulfil what is undoubtedly huge potential.
I know which one I’d rather have at the club.