LEO SPALL: David Beckham and David Bentley can't keep up with the need for speed

05 January 2011 03:34
As far as put-downs go Harry Redknapp's claim that he cannot rely on David Bentley because 'he keeps picking up injuries' on Friday mornings was pretty good.

But telling him that the modern game is leaving him and his type behind would have been better (even if it would risk the wrath of Twitter fan Mrs Bentley).

Amid the brouhaha that has inevitably surrounded the possibility of David Beckham returning to the Premier League, the spotlight on the star has illuminated how few players there are in the top flight from a similar mould.

Speed limit: Bentley (left) and Beckham have been overtaken by wide players bombing down the fast lane

Bentley, nickname 'Becks', is one who bears a resemblance in his playing style, a right-sided midfielder who can deliver a pass or cross but not necessarily beat a defender with his pace.

This is a simplification of both players' talents of course and they have more to offer, but how many teams play with a wide midfielder who is not a strong-running athlete?

  More from Leo Spall. Leo Spall: Who was Arsenal's all-action hero against Chelsea?29/12/10 Leo's London: It's now or never for Bendtner after all his own hype 22/12/10 Leo's London: Nasri's brilliant form means Arsenal can stop relying on Fab08/12/10 Leo's London: Fulham may be falling but Hughes remains the Spark01/12/10 Leo's London: Arsenal or Spurs for the Premier League title? Forget it .24/11/10 LEO'S LONDON: Bad luck Chelsea, but should you rely on a small squad?17/11/10 Leo's London: Wenger's gamble goes wrong as Koscielny comes up short09/11/10 LEO'S LONDON: Avram has three games to save job - and a sorry season 03/11/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE  The pace of the game is just too fast for teams to carry slower players unless they are exceptionally talented.

It might not represent a sea change - wingers have always needed pace - but it is a sign of the direction the game has taken. 

Beckham (never a quick player) developed great talent and that, among many other obvious reasons, is why there has been interest in him. But not at the top level.

Don't forget Redknapp's interest has been based on the benefit of having Beckham around the team and making the odd cameo - on the pitch as well as in the club shop.

The other Premier League clubs to profess an interest are from lower down the table.

Bentley's options after flopping at Spurs are not the stellar kind either. The 26-year-old is nine years Beckham's junior and age has not diminished his physical prowess in the same way, but he is not good enough for managers to build their teams around.

A midfielder on either flank pretty much has to be able to get up and down them rapidly. Even those who get tucked into three-man midfields need solid defensive capabilities in addition to their passing skills and tricks.

That is why Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, another player who wanted to play like Beckham and is not blessed with lightning speed, looks more of a goalscoring forward than a midfielder.

Blink and you'll miss him: Tottenham's flying machine Bale is a very modern phenomenon in football

Cleverley, on loan at Wigan, is still waiting for his breakthrough at Old Trafford too and is already 21-years-old.

Kids growing up now will be modelling themselves on the indefatigable Gareth Bale, who plays less intricately but is superbly effective, powerful and impressive to watch.

Bale would be the prototype type if players could be built. As far as midfield positions are concerned, artists need not apply. 

If Crystal Palace can coax Steve Coppell out of retirement and back to the club it would be a fantastic coup.

Questions about his temperament endure after the surprisingly short spells he had at Manchester City and, recently, Bristol City.

But if any manager knows how to get the best out of Palace it is him. He has an affinity with the club and fans which would be invaluable when togetherness is vital.

If Coppell (right) was given time and the right conditions he would succeed too.

That does not mean the owners giving him money to throw around in the transfer market - although clearly some would be needed to improve the squad. It means leaving him alone to get on with the job.

Coppell asserts his independence more than many managers and that would need to be respected. 

Carlo Ancelotti claims that Chelsea's demise began when they threatened to crush Birmingham at St Andrew's in November and lost.

Anyone who saw the game will have an idea of how demoralising it must have been to play so imperiously and not see the game out.

But if one setback like that was really enough to put the skids under Ancelotti's team, there must have been problems there before.

Resilience has long been Chelsea's strength and the manager needs to help his players get it back, and fast, if his 'luck' in maintaining the backing of the board is to hold. 

 Sort it out, Harry! Bentley's wife launches foul-mouthed Twitter rantRedknapp tells Galaxy: Make your mind up over loaning out Beckham!Palace chairman to talk with Coppell about returning for FIFTH timeI'm a lucky man! Ancelotti admits he could have been sacked after poor run

 Explore more:People: Steve Coppell, David Bentley, David Beckham, Gareth Bale, Harry Redknapp, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Birmingham

Source: Daily_Mail