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Farewell Nic Bendtner. It wasn’t as bad as some make out

By Walter Broeckx

After my rant at Uefa about the fine they gave to Bendtner for exposing the wrong underpants I now want to take a look at his future at Arsenal. Or maybe better said: his lack of future at Arsenal.

The player himself said last season he wanted to leave and after a loan spell at Sunderland the door for a final departure seems to be open. And if the rumours that are getting stronger and stronger about Arsenal signing Giroud are true, the door will be very wide open I think.

In a way I always find it a bit sad when a player couldn’t really bring what was expected. I think Bendtner will be one of those. The opinions are very much divided on him amongst the supporters. But his mouth hasn’t endeared him with many fans. Saying you never want to return to a club is maybe what you think but for a player it is not always sensible to say what you think. Being a bit diplomatic can help you in your relationship with the supporters.

I think a wise player will never go public with such things. He can say this to the manager when they are talking about his personal future. As we all know that Wenger will not say anything bad about a player while at the club and he keeps this most of the time even when a player has betrayed him. So saying to Wenger: ‘I want to leave’ is fine. Going to a newspaper saying: “I don’t want to go back to Arsenal” is….the best way to burn your boats.

Just imagine that on 1 February last season suddenly RVP, Chamakh, Park and whoever can play upfront got injured for the rest of the season… And we would stop the loan – as most of the time such an action is stipulated in the loan agreement. Would he then come back and take on the challenge to prove himself?

Now the disaster didn’t happen but still you better think before you open your mouth is something that the old folks tell their children.  Don’t they have that saying in Danish?  Did no one ever tell this to Bendtner?

For many Bendtner will have been failure. 99 appearances and 22 goals don’t look that much for a striker. But many of those appearances were as a sub so it could well be that his ratio goals/minutes play is not that bad at all. But he is not the fancy striker with the skilful feet who can twist and turn and dribble his way to a goal. No, with his height he is more the powerful target man up front who can score with his head or give assists to other players.

And then we see an amazing difference between the Bendtner who played for Arsenal and the one that plays for Denmark. As I said 22 goals in 99 appearances for Arsenal and for Denmark he had 52 appearances and 20 goals. That is almost the same amount of goals in half the number of games. And his Denmark statistics are really impressive for a 24 year old striker.  Just to give you some comparing numbers Ronaldo had also scored 22 goals when he was 24 years old for Portugal. But he had played in 67 games to get the same number of goals.

Now I’m not going to suggest that he is as good as Ronaldo but still the numbers are what they are and just saying that Bendtner is not good at all is a bit silly.

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So why couldn’t he produce what he can for Denmark when playing for Arsenal? Well I think he just is the victim of being a good striker but not in the Arsenal system. And the fact that due to circumstances he never really got his chance to play a few months in his favoured central striker position for Arsenal. Well he did the season before for a while when he got his chance when some other strikers were injured. Scoring a few vital goals and giving some assists. And then he got injured again if my memory is correct.

But to be a central striker for Arsenal you do need to play along with the rest of the team and that is where the big difference is between Arsenal and Denmark. The Danes play a different style of football much better suited for Bendtner. A system Arsenal rarely uses, maybe even better said never uses.

The final things that maybe have been detrimental for his career have been a few out of pitch exploits. We know Wenger is very loyal to his players and rarely comes out in the open with things they do wrong but I can imagine Wenger losing some hair when Bendtner was at it again. Being caught on camera with his pants down, a car crash, an arrest,… not really the things Wenger likes to see or hear from an Arsenal player. And maybe some signals that at times Bendtner himself did not always live like a 100% professional should do?

He also maybe was a bit unlucky by the fact that always in his career he had another striker who was delivering the goals so he couldn’t get playing in his preferred position. Adebayor for a while, Robin Van Persie… Sometimes you need a bit of luck in your career with another player getting injured but for some reason the other player for his place just seemed to play on a high level.

Some will call Bendtner dead wood but maybe his presence was contributing for the other player to step up his game? If so then I don’t really want to call him dead wood. Maybe more a young tree that couldn’t fully grow because of an older and bigger tree keeping the sun away?

So apart from a big turnaround it seems that we are seeing the last of Bendtner as an Arsenal player. It  surely wasn’t his confidence that has caused him not to succeed or maybe more the fact that he was over-confident that made him not make it. I remember some great moments in his Arsenal career like when coming on against Spurs and scoring the winning goal with his first touch. His goal in the CL against Dynamo Kiev. His and maybe our saddest moment was when we lost at Barcelona two seasons ago and when he had the equaliser in front of his foot only to miss his control of the ball. Maybe in that game he made a mistake that cost him the rest of his Arsenal career?

31 comments to Farewell Nic Bendtner. It wasn’t as bad as some make out

  • Scott

    That article nailed it.
    Those suggesting Bendtner can’t play know little or noting about football.

  • Galway Gooner

    Nice piece Walter and agree with almost everything that you said. Nic is a decent player and I think if picked as first choice is a Prem League team with hit around the 10-15 goal a season mark which is about his level.

    the annoying thing is that with his physique and age he could go on to be a real player – if only he could sort that attitude out.

  • Stroller

    You’ve summed it up pretty well there. His performances never matched his own opinion of himself. I imagine that some of his remarks didn’t go down too well with team mates when he was more or less saying that he was entitled to be starting (i.e ahead of them). It’s possible that a lot of what came out was just bravado, and if he had put his energy into trying to improve his game instead of demanding starts he would have achieved his aim. He’s should do OK elsewhere and just hope that he doesn’t show any bitterness to the club that developed him.

  • Lean - Danish gooner

    Exellent piece Walter. But as a Dane I must correct you.
    Denmark play almost ecsactly the same system as our beloved Arsenal. And Bendtners Role in the national side is the same as Van Persies is at Arsenal.

  • James

    He is a quality striker and will go on somewhere else and prove he’s of a high standard.

    Then people will bash Wenger with the ‘WHY DID THEY SELL HIM? HE’S GREAT’ thing they tried with people like Upson and Bentley when they had a good season.

    Seeing him despatched on the right-wing must’ve been more depressing for him than it was for me and I was always gutted when that happened.

    I wish him all the best, but please not at Sunderland. Go to Spain and score 30 goals.

    His goals against Stoke, Hull, Tottenham and Villa all in tight games will be what I remember him for. Buzzing after all of those.

  • Gerry Lennon

    I agree that he is not well suited by Arsenal when their system is built around RVP, and it does not change much even when he is out. It has also been the case, Arsenal have hardly ever been firing when he got his chance.
    For his sake, I hope he makes the right choice if/when he does move on.

  • Lanz

    Nice one for the young man! I wish someone will do a similar piece for Denilson. These guys are simply not the “handicapped” that many fans seem to portray. I don’t know why some fans wouldn’t just appreciate players. On many blog comments, you read stuff like we really need central defenders. Just get Vertonghen, etc. You wonder, what is wrong with TV5 or Koz? Now, rumours appeared today about Farca’s interest in TV5 and the same fans wanted Farca to stay off!!!

  • naked goon

    maybe I am mistaken but I seem to remember when he and Arshavin were paired up, they appeared to work quite well together. that could have been a Plan B-A,… and still could

  • bc

    Not sure about your stats. but on arsenal.com the stats for bendtner are 79 appearances and 45 goals. i assume u are somhow increasing the appearances by including the odd minute here and there from the bench? and somehow reducing the goals scored by excluding champions league fa and carling cup?

    however on average sub appearances in total minutes usually only account for the minutes u miss when withdrawn after starting. i think bendtners goals per starts and goals per minutes stand up with most strikers at the club. when u look at our so called deadwood there is a team in there for someone.

    fabianski
    eastmond squillaci djourou botelho
    denilson diaby
    park arshavin vela
    bendtner or chamakh

  • Danny

    How come nobody talks of denilson?

  • leirbag

    I think most critics could simply not put up with his self belief. he has always been a decent player. If I were appointed manager for arsenal, I wouldn’t sell him off, but rather fit him in because he is very young, has aerial threat and quite a decent passer of the ball when attacking.

  • @Walter thanks for that piece,as of me i will never forget the Legend Titi when he missed those two sitters with Barcelona,with fifteen minutes to go.

  • Shard

    I think the difference between his international career and Arsenal career is simply explained by the fact that International football is not as high in quality as PL/CL football. Bendtner had(has?) a poor first touch, which playing in the Arsenal team, is essential. Especially if you are playing through the middle. That’s why Wenger played him wide. To develop his touch, his perception of the play all round.

    Sadly, I think the Barcelona moment defines his career. He could have taken the next step right there. But he let himself, and the team down. There’s no coming back from that, especially if you have issues with your attitude.

    I always maintained Bendtner would become a very good player. Like Drogba, I think Nik is a late bloomer. He’ll probably now never reach the heights that Drogba did, but he’s still a good player. Arsenal is not the club for him though.

  • whang

    I like Nic as a player, yes he had an ego that was very annoying, but overall his stats were not that bad. I remembering hin scoring some vital goals for us in the run in a couple of seasons ago, when the pressure was on. I think the most frustrating thing about him was the chances he missed, perhaps as fans we have been spoilt over the years with great finishers who control the ball instantly. He missed so many chances due to snatching at shots or mis controlling the ball. The fact is though he had to be in the position to miss them. He is still young and his finishing and temprement will improve with age. I think for a young striker his movement was good, but perhaps lacked the expeience and level headedness to apply a finish. Which seems to be his character as you so rightly pointed out. I do think he will go on to be a very good CF but maybe in a team that does not create the chances for the frontmen that arsenal do. so we may never see 20+ goals a season from him. Either way i wish him luck and thank him for his time at Arsenal

  • DR

    I think it actually WAS his arrogance that was the root of the problem, there were parts of his game that needed work and if he was trying to improve them, we’d have seen some payback on the pitch, which we never saw so it isn’t too much of a stretch to think that he didn’t put the work in. Having said that, if we played 4-4-2 he’d have been okay but his touch wasn’t good enough for the single central striker so he had to play out wide. It is indeed sad to see someone with so much potential fall short but that’s the way of things.

  • Wooby

    Won’t miss him when he goes. One difficulty with young players is figuring out which ones, as they grow, will put in the effort to hone their talents to be the best (or among the best). For every Thierry Henry who makes it, there are several (if not a dozen) who do not. I fear Bendtner is in the latter category. I think most of us here recognize him as a talent, yet his actual production in the BPL (not just with us, but while on loan at Birmingham and Sunderland) suggest he is not even a middle-of-the-pack, run-of-the-mill striker / CF. We are talking about someone who has only once approached an average 1 goal for every 3 league games he has played (that’d be ’07-’08, according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicklas_Bendtner).

    @leirbag, you are quite right, his self belief does drive one crazy. He’s now 24 years old now and continues to talk as though he is the among the best in the game in the face of numbers that point to the contrary. I have zero confidence/belief that he is going to wake up in the near future. It is probably best to write him off and move on to the next player.

  • Arsenal1Again

    I’ve always rated Bendtner and I liked his arrogance, whether misplaced or not, because to me it conveys self-confidence.

    He’s tall and though relatively lanky, he carries more body weight than the average player and he possesses good strength, both of which equate to power, especially when charging like he does at defenses.

    Technically he’s lacking, but if the guy gets the ball within 30 yards of goal he’s always dangerous. Not as selfish as I would like him to be when he has the ball, I think the duty of a striker is to strike, not play pinball with the others on the edge of the box. There was a Ukranian playing last night exactly how I like strikers to play, banging the ball at goal at every opportunity.

    Bendtner is also good in the air.

    The only time I’ve been vexed by him is when he and Clichy and, if memory serves me right Silvestre were the senior makeweights in our typically youthful league cup team one evening – and Bentdtner put in a stroppy performance because he didn’t want to be there. He’s a good player and something not many people know, he and his father are very high principled. Bendtner is not a player who would crap on Arseanl like Flamini and Nasri did. Naturally he would like the same loyalty and respect shown to himself by the club and if, behind the scenes he has not been like I suspect, there might lay the reason why he wants to leave.

  • nicky

    @Lanz,
    You make a very valid point. Too often players are subjected to too early decisions by fans as to their capabilities and are lumbered with this for the rest of their time at the club.

  • bob

    His Arrogance vs. 1 Missed Moment. If he made that shot, nobody would mind that arrogance. It would be Our Nik. I/we are that fickle. Methinks he’s becoming the late bloomer that we will wish we had, if only he had made that unforgivable miss.

  • SouthernGunner

    It’s a shame things didn’t work out for him at Arsenal, because he does have his qualities and is very good at utilising them. Saw him play a few times (in the Carling Cup, mainly), and one thing I noticed more seeing him live as opposed to on tv, was his team play. He is very good at holding on to the ball and keeping posession, allowing his team mates to do what they do. He was never the most elegant striker to watch, and at times missed some sitters, but he is a good player who has been subject to a lot of criticism (some of it unfairly so IMO). Good luck to the lad.

  • Arvind

    Bendtner will do really well at a club like Everton I think. Also with Laudrup coming in to Swansea, I wonder if Arsenal will do a deal with them.

    As for Arsenal, if we hadn’t bought Giroud I’d happily take Bendtner back. He’s much like Szcz in a striker role; maybe not as good. He’s scored a lot of crucial goals and works quite hard most of the time. Yes he has a big head and doesn’t back up his words enough…but hey … he’s no way as awful as the AAA will have you believe. He is one MORE player who has got crucified for way more than is deserved. As for the Barcelona miss, that’s a ridiculous reason IMO. No footballer’s career is made or broken on 1 game; even if its the CL final. And most definitely, AW will have looked at much much more before deciding.

    In a nutshell, I’m not too unhappy to see him go because we have got reasonable (or better) replacements in. Had we not, though, and Giroud still isn’t confirmed…I’d be happy with NB52 staying on. He’ll do okay.

    Is anyone doing a piece on Denilson as someone suggested? The amount of abuse the kid got and continues to get is stupendous. And laugh at me if you will, the kid had a brain. He wasn’t up to it physically..maybe and didn’t track back enough…but no one is going to tell me that he wasn’t smart and was a crap player. At 19 and 20 he played in the toughest position in the park game after game and did quite okay IMO.

  • Ugandan Goon

    I agree with Walter about the lack of match fitness being one of the reasons bendtner’s career has taken the form it has, he has pretty good feet(for a big man, sorry!), when he opens his legs he moves around quite fast, good header of the ball, link up play is good despite the occasional howler. this was all evident when we loaned him to Birmingham City back when.
    The problem seems to be that he doesn’t work as hard as he should off the pitch, his agent is shit (that’s you bendtner snr), i wonder whether it is really advisable to have family acting for you in business esp. your Dad, i mean look at the murdochs. I know you cannot professionally represent your close family in law courts. I can’t imagine that was done for no reason.
    the tell tale signs of a man coming apart what with prangs and fraternising with the great Satan that is the betting industry, numerous incidents reported of him getting sozzled on the town are probably not sitting well with the prof. who lets not forget instigated the no alcohol policy at Arsenal and by extension the rest of the league, Arsene also considers “the wrong kind of petrol for a player’s body, i am sure that he will get his career together with maturity, but that requires patience, that costs time and time is money, so what ever the danish is for arrivederrchi..
    Just being controversial here, i wonder if players born and raised in relative affluence and comfort face a barrier in their development specifically relating to how we are socialised in to a consumer society, with freedoms designed to make enjoyment of life for young people seems to be focussed on precisely what you need the least as footballer, late nights and all sorts of consumables, some illegal. I remember there was a rumour going round at some point that there was a premiership footballer who had a squirt of heroin every now and then. i never found out who it was but i have my suspects.

  • Ugandan Goon

    @Arvind,
    Re. DEN,
    Hear hear, i will never forget his performance against bolton away 2nd leg FA cup, tie poised at 1-1, they were our bogey team (allowed to kick sizable lumps out our players) brother we stuffed ’em 1-3 at theirs, remember htis was a cup squad with kids and bolton played hard under allardice, that day we passed the ball quickly round those steroid cases and beat them comprehensively. something we hadn’t done with the first team for a while. I could have married denilson that day, my heart was bursting with pride. but hey ho c’est la vie.

  • Stuart

    The trouble with NB52 is he is so cock sure of himself he seems unable to see his weaknesses and therefore improve as a player. I’m not sure how you change that situation as a manager except fire them and get a new employee / player but maybe he could be a top striker for us if he didn’t believe he was the best and that the whole world agreed with him. Could you imagine TH14 thinking he was the best when he joined AFC and therefore never getting better?? Such a waste.

  • Garry

    I think Bendtner is a class act n hasnt really shown his best form at Arsenal in the first team. Despite being 6’4/6’5 he has good mobility and his technique is good for his size and has a good understanding of the play he does need to be more clinical infront of the goal and maybe work harder but i can see him becoming a top top striker if he is 100% committed where do you think he’ll go ?

  • Billy

    Bendtner will shine if he picks the right club. Most big and strong players like etc vieri, lorente, viduka, kanoute, niall quinn didnt have remarkable scoring record before they reached the age bracket of 24-26. He will come good at another club im sure.

  • ARSENAL 13

    Little Nick was brought into our youth setup. If he couldnt adapt to our system of play, I doubt if (guess the reports are true) Giroud can.

    Nick any day is better than Caroll. If he doesnt want to wear red and white (and blue), then no point in keeping him. The same goes for Vela and Arshavin.

  • Damien Luu

    @Arsenal 13: “Nick any day is better than Caroll.” – Oh come on, please don’t use that comparison. Carroll is a true joke, only fools, oops, I meant pools, would take him 😉

    I agree that Nic is already a good player (watch him play for Denmark) and can be much better. But he is too much self-centred. He will play very good somewhere where he is the main man, like in Dane team. Big fish in small pond, not small fish in big pond.

  • Asif

    After going through all the comments, the verdict is:

    1. Nic is a good player,
    2. has attitude issues,
    3. can never reach the heights that he claims to have already attained
    4. He was liked by most
    5. Nobody (including me) would miss him though
    6. And everybody wishes him all the best for his future.

  • Black Hei

    You know the most disappointing thing is that despite the general appreciation from Arsenal fans, Bendter probably don’t know and don’t care if we existed as his head is somewhere above the clouds.
    Never heard him thanking the fans for anything. If he did so somebody please correct me.

  • Rockett

    Nic is a center forward he is not i repeat not anything else he is definatly not a winger where we often asked him to play. Before 2011/12 season i think if you checked the stats his strike rate to games started was better than RVP. Why can he not be kept and used as sub or a plan B we know he can score goals so what if he is arrogant and has huge amounts of self confidence would you rather have confidence in youre striker or perhaps lack of it like torrez who cant hit a barn door from 10 ft i know what id rather have take ronaldo for example now im not saying i like him at all in fact i hate him from his days at manure but you cant deny he does he think he is the greatest player in the world yes and hes close to it. Now i know i know bentner is not in that class his first touch is sometimes poor but i would rather keep him a experianced international that plays on a average international team with no real stars that has a very good strike rate than sign Giroud who has scored 21 goals in the sub par french league 1 and made a couple not really impressive appearences for his country
    My opinion ill be sorry he leaves Arsenal i think he is someone we should keep.