England stars aren’t allowed to express themselves... the heart has been ripped out of game
DAVID BENTLEY reckons England internationals have become snooze-fests for fans because they are the same for players, too.
And Bentley isn’t surprised things have gone that way after seeing so much of the character drained from the game he used to play.
“It’s boring for the players and that’s why it’s boring for the fans,” said the 33-year-old, who retired four years ago.
“Football is an art form and, if you play it with your head and not your heart, then it will come across like that.
“If you’re watching Strictly or if you’re at Cirque Du Soleil, then you appreciate what you are seeing because of the art of it.
“The performers are expressing themselves.
“Football is the same and therein lies the problem because players aren’t allowed to be expressive any more, especially with England.
“There are some great lads in football, but they aren’t allowed to show their personalities.
“Every interview sounds the same, every question is answered the same, every game I watch now, it all looks the same.”
Bentley wants players to be more entertaining. He said: “Where’s [Georgi] Kinkladze, where’s [Gianfranco] Zola, Paulo Wanchope, [David] Ginola, Gazza, [Eric] Cantona? Where are those players these days?
“They were the players I loved watching because they played with their hearts, not their heads.
“When people say, ‘Use your head’ in football, it’s the most bizarre comment I’ve ever heard.
“Never use your head. The head complicates situations.
“The problem is football is a reflection of society and society now bases everything on the way it looks rather than the way it feels.
“Now, football is all about tactics and statistics, and it’s to the detriment of the game.”
Bentley, who won seven England caps, reckons his old Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp (below) is the best man for the England job.
He added: “Harry’s one of the most qualified coaches we’ve got, great personality, the lads would like him.
“But the reason he hasn’t got the England job is because those above him at the FA are scared he might upset the brand, he might say something. “Well, I’ll tell you what, the England brand is probably in the worst state it has ever been in. “Players aren’t allowed to express themselves as much as they used to and we need to rip up the rulebook of whatever bull***t rules we have set for 20 years and just have a jolly-up. Let’s see how we do then.
“The Irish have a great time. Stephen Carr tells me about his experiences of playing for Ireland and when I think about my experiences of playing for England, compared to what he says, it upsets me really.
“I don’t talk about England with any meaning. I was bored, in hotels, nothing going on… it was like a prison.
“The whole system is pessimistic now, about not getting into trouble – but the best players are optimists.
“An optimist will score a goal in a World Cup final because he feels it with his heart, not his head.
“You ask anyone how they scored a goal and they can’t explain — they just walloped it. I just say, ‘At the time, I just felt it, it was an expression of myself ’.
“The heart has been ripped out of the game – and it needs to be put back into it.”
PASSIONATE: Bentley played for England but says our stars, who drew 0-0 with Germany (left), are stifled.