God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another.
Hamlet, the Danish prince. A man with a volatile nature. One moment on top of the world and the next hiding from it. It could be so easily Nicklas Bendtner. Unfortunately, Hamlet is a man of introspection, whilst Bendtner never seems to learn from his often repeated mistakes. Hamlet is a character, whilst Bendtner is a mere caricature. He has become a person so hated by some fans, one fan said of his being let go at the end of 2014 season:-
Bendtner released ? Should of staked him on the centre spot tonight and let the jnr gunners at him
— SheWoreAYellowRibbon (@SheWore) May 23, 2014
Its hard to think that many, many years ago (less than 10 even), Nicklas Bendtner was held in pretty high esteem by the club and even some fans. Where did it all go so horribly wrong?
If Bendtner signifies anything about Arsenal and Arsene Wenger‘s management it is the importance of youth and the changing policy towards having English and foreign players within the premier league. One year after Arsene Wenger joined, Howard Wilkinson introduced the Charter for Quality, which meant that players under the age of 12 had to live within an hour of the training facilities and an hour and a half for 15 year olds. Therefore, Arsenal’s youth policy often meant looking beyond these area’s and borders and abroad for players and housing them near the training facilities of the club. Therefore, Arsenal had signed Bendtner from F.C. Copenhagen in 2004 The Official Arsenal Opus a book written in 2006 but published in 2011 discussed how Bendtner was seen as ‘another highly promising striker’ [alongside Arturo Lupoli]. The beginning of what would be termed project youth.
The introduction of Nicklas Bendtner for his debut as a sub in 2005 against Sunderland and a further two games that season hardly informed us of what was about to arrive at the club. At a time when Thierry Henry was seen as the focal point of the team, very few people could reach a feeling of self accomplishment and possibly arrogance except Nicklas. Philippe Auclair excellent book on Henry commented:-
The dressing room [of season 2005-6] of which Thierry was now undisputed leader was filled with newcomers, not all of whom – we’ll make an exception for Bendtner – had the force of character to claim a space of their own.
Any football player needs self confidence. A young player moving to a foreign country even more so, but Bendtner’s went way beyond self confidence, Bendtner seemed to suffer a Narcissistic personality disorder, which is :-
A person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and to others in the process.
I am no psychologist, but much of his behaviour seems to fit.
Anyhow, after 3 games in 2005-6 Bendtner would be loaned (along with Johan Djourou) to Birmingham City in the championship for season 2006-7. In 38 appearances (plus for sub appearances) for the club he would score 11 times and get sent off once. Steve Claridge commented of him in an article of his time there (rather ironically now):-
Some say he is a target man, but that’s too simplistic because he was prepared to come short, link play and commit defenders, finding other players who were unmarked because of his own good play. At times he needs to keep closer to his partner, because he’s usually the one to flick the ball on. But his work rate was good throughout and, the more you watch, the more you realise that this is a player blessed with a fabulous all-round talent. I just hope that, as with all players who find the game relatively easy, he’s prepared to work at the things that don’t come naturally as well as the things that do.
Proof of Bendtner’s self confidence was on display from the start when he started dating the Birmingham City manager’s, Steve Bruce, daughter Amy (see picture below). Bruce had to come home from work and find his star striker in his own home! Hardly what many employee’s would do unless you are Nicklas Bendtner. That he then dumped her whilst the Bruce family were on holiday in Marbella hardly made him popular either. At least his goals helped Birmingham get promoted though.
After a successful season, Bendtner returned to Arsenal. I was fortunate enough to see his first goal for Arsenal in a 2-0 win over Newcastle in the League Cup , with a great header at the back post [video below was the only one I could find of the goal].
This was Bendtner at his best. He worked hard, was industrious and seemed a confident lad.
But for all Bendtner’s faults (and my god, there are a few), I’ll always hold him in high esteem for his first league goal on 22 December 2007. Against Spurs. In a season in which Arsenal had lost Thierry Henry to Barcelona in the summer, few had given us a chance. But there we stood. Top of the league and playing Spurs at home before Christmas. In a game where Arsenal were often slow, Spurs often (though it pains me to say) were often on top. Although Adebayor had put us 1-0 up, Spurs equalised in the second half. Then, disaster. Spurs got a penalty, with the odious Robbie Keane to take it. Up he stepped and Almunia saved (a term rarely used in a sentence).
Still one all. Spurs had already brought on the saviour of British football (and Spurs), Tom Huddlestone. All week prior to the game, the British press had been talking up his importance especially in the derby match. How true. Four minutes after the save, Bendtner came on as a sub just as we were about to take a corner. A gentle jog up to the front post and then a burst of speed as Cesc corner comes in. Huddlestone just watches. 2-1 Arsenal and top of the league.
What could possibly go wrong from now on in Bendtner’s career? Well, just so much really.
Even in his opening season, Bendtner could not help but get into some form of trouble. Most famously when Arsenal were playing Spurs in a cup semi-final in 2008 and he and Adebayor came to blows. Adebayor said afterwards of the incident:-
I had a little difficult moment with Nicklas Bendtner.There was a rule at Arsenal where no one is allowed to come into the dressing room with trainers or house shoes on. I cannot understand why Nicklas came every day with his shoes on.
Nicklas, you are a footballer, I am a footballer, maybe I am better than you, maybe you are better than me but you have to respect everyone. There are rules saying you cannot come into the dressing-room with your house shoes. Take them off.
According to Adebayor, Bendtner “never took them off and things started from there. I cannot accept that”.
Bendtner was also remembered for his first season in 2007/8 for his clearance off the line against Liverpool in the quarters of the ECL. Unfortunately it was against his team mate Alexander Hleb against Liverpool:-
Although Bendtner had ability, for example the hat tricks he scored against Porto in 2010 :-
A game I think Tim might recall?
Or even the hat trick against Leyton Orient in the F.A cup:-
Nothing can mask that Bendtner was a good player, but if one game sums Bendtner up it was the miss in 2011 against Barcelona Camp Nou.
Kevin Whitcher described it thus:-
Going through on goal with just the keeper to beat, Nicklas Bendtner – ‘one of the world’s top strikers’ as described by himself – demonstrated the classy technique that makes him so feared by opposition defenders. If only. With an illusionary first touch that negated lessons that had been installed into him by Arsene Wenger, Bendtner ensured that the one and only chance of pulling off a shock result in Camp Nou was gone.
If his performances on the pitch were laughable, his attitude off it was worse. Where does one start. The shirt number of 52 for the amount of thousand per weeks he was paid? Maybe whilst on loan in Sunderland going on a wrecking spree in Newcastle with Lee Cattermole whilst drunk? Perhaps going to collect his pizza in Copenhagen, going down the wrong side of the road whilst under the influence? His saying he did not want to return to Arsenal in 2011 but did so in 2013? His flagellation of a taxi in Denmark whilst Drunk? Maybe It is starting his own jewelry firm? Its a selection of them all. Thank god he never did anything foolish, like meet a princess or a member of the royal family and have a child. Wow. He did that too.
Although Nicklas Bendtner did come back this season after a loan period at Juventus (9 appearance and 0 goals), in many ways it was because Yaya Sanogo was injured and we had no one else to cover Olivier Giroud. Although he did score two goals this season. One against Hull City:-
One against Cardiff (in which he got immediate injured. Could only happen to Bendtner):-
By the end of this season I think Wenger felt incredibly let down by Bendtner. His whole ‘project youth’ had come to an end and Bendtner was the last remnant of this. Bendtner had been rewarded well and played badly. In many ways Wenger should take responsibility for this, especially when at one stage he was using him as a winger when he had neither pace nor guile for a tall man to cross (a tall man like…..Bendtner). He was also paying a lot of money on a long contract to a player who was just too arrogant and often lazy. By march 2014, Bendtner beating up a taxi had finally meant Wenger had enough. He said of the incident:-
Nobody gave him (Bendtner) any permission to go to Copenhagen. He will be fined for that.
Wenger therefore used Sanogo more and Bendtner was frozen out. His last cup game against Coventry, where he had a quite shocking game. Below, is one of his two misses:-
Bendtner’s contract expired this year. Its hard to think he’s just 26. In his time at Arsenal he has scored 45 league and cup goals (I never knew it was that many):-
He had played 80 games and 85 as a substitute (a goal ratio of 1 in four games). To nearly all fans he was a terrible disappointment. He had talent. He had confidence. But he had no humility and believed he ‘was the worlds greatest striker that ever lived’, leaving him open to much ridicule from Arseblog who referred to him by the acronym TGSTEL.
My favorite Bendtner moment was him getting to enjoy watching Arsenal win the F.A cup [added because I still enjoy seeing it]:-
Then possibly my second would be watching twitter to see what Gav on Shewore and his twitter account would rant at Bendtner. My favourite? Well, the one below had the least profanity.
Nice to see nick Bendtnerget a shirt number with his worth in pence #NB23
— SheWoreAYellowRibbon(@SheWore) September 6, 2013
I would say good luck Bendtner, but its hard to say it when he seems to waste what he had. I mean, look at the picture at the start of the article?