Nabil Bentaleb is looking to build and improve on what he has achieved at Tottenham in the last six months as he prepares for the challenge of the new season ahead.
Twelve months ago, as Tottenham brought in their seven new signings, Nabil Bentaleb was a young professional who had progressed through the Spurs Academy. He made a couple of appearance in early pre-season friendlies against the lower league teams but was mostly playing for the Under-21 team and Spurs XI side. He wasn’t regarded as a member of the first team squad or a player pushing to get into it. He was an unused substitute against Hull City in the Cup match in October but that was as far as it went.
Spotlight on Nabil Betaleb
Six months on and the appointment of Tim Sherwood suddenly catapulted Nabil Bentaleb into the spotlight as he made his first team debut and would be on his way to the World Cup Finals. He made his debut as a substitute at Southampton in the interim manager’s first Premier League game in charge, following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas.
Bentaleb then made his full debut in the FA Cup tie against Arsenal at the Emirates in January. He retained his place in the team for the next match at home to Crystal Palace and impressed with his all-round display that afternoon. He could have crowned his first Premier League start with a goal and was extremely unfortunate to see his powerful drive hit the post, go across the goal and hit the other post before going out for a goal-kick.
Having worked with Bentaleb in the Development squad, Sherwood had faith in the 19-year-old who retained his place in the team over the next three months, much to the apparent annoyance of some more experienced international midfield players. Fans also started to query why Sherwood persisted with Bentaleb while expensive signings watched from the bench.
Nabil Bentaleb at the World Cup
Bentaleb had done enough to impress the manager and also the coach of Algeria who included Bentaleb in his squad for the World Cup Finals in Brazil and come June included the young player in his team for the three group games.
Nabil Bentaleb is aware of the criticism he received in those six months but is prepared to take it and wants to prove the doubters wrong. His desire is to build and improve on what he did last season. Speaking in the Daily Mail, he said,
Everyone has their opinion. It’s football and you are going to be criticised – you have to accept that. I accept it. Now if people still think of me as a little kid that’s up to them, but I’m looking forward to improving more.
Bentaleb says that his ambition at Tottenham was to get into the team and now he wants to become a regular in the team. He said,
My first goal was to get into the Tottenham first team. My goal now is to keep improving and be a better player, a starter.
He knows that he has come a long way and overcome many difficulties to get this far in his career,
I have grown up in the last year. It’s only the beginning of my career and I have been through many things already. I have been kicked out of many clubs and now I have grown up.
Bentaleb Looking to the New Season
Speaking of the pre-season preparations which saw him join the team on the trip to Finland and come on in the second half against Celtic, Bentaleb said,
We are working hard in pre-season and we are nearly ready now for the beginning of the season. We have one more game and we will be ready for West Ham in two weeks.
Nabil Bentaleb spoke positively of Tottenham’s prospects for the season, saying,
Most people don’t think we are going to have a big season, but I think we are really confident and know what we can do. Last season people thought we would do well and this season I think we can surprise people.
He admits that he is learning under new manager, Mauricio Pochettino, saying,
Things are going good. I’m still learning because with a new manager you have to know what he wants from you. I think he made that clear what he wanted from each of us and we are happy to work with him.
Nabil Bentaleb is obviously prepared to meet the criticism he received and the challenge of the new season with the same determination that he displayed in many of his performances last year.