The 25-year-old’s big break at Tottenham came via Sherwood, who brought him on for his first appearance in their Premier League clash with Southampton back in 2013.
Sherwood was in temporary charge at the time, but seems to have always been a big fan of the Schalke loanee – someone Steve Bruce contacted him about before he signed on Tyneside last week, according to the Chronicle.
Here’s what the former Spurs coach has had to say about the midfielder during a chat with Ciaran Kelly:
“I think he’s a great signing because he can be flexible.
“He’s best in a No 8 position where you can let him loose and get up and down and be energetic but he will fill in and do a job wherever he is asked him to do.
“It’s almost keeping the reins on him and slowing him down at times, letting him know when he needs to stand still.
“He is all energy and he has a point to prove to Schalke and I also feel he has a point to prove deep down to Tottenham that they should never have let him go and I agree with him.
“I know what it takes up there. I’ve played up there so many times. They don’t ask for a lot. They have their mavericks, the [David] Ginolas and [Peter] Beardsleys, players who are exceptional, and the rest have just got to roll their sleeves up and give everything and that’s what the crowd accept and I think Nabil is perfect for that and he will appreciate the support. It’s a big club and he knows it’s a big club.
“It’s a perfect platform for him and he’s not one of those who thinks he’s better than Newcastle. I hate players when they go to these teams and think they are doing you a favour by going to them and they have had a lot of them in the past. Players who have gone up there and think that it’s automatically going to happen and ‘I shouldn’t be here really and I should be at Liverpool or Man United’.
“Well, you shouldn’t because you’re there and this is your chance to prove yourself and I think it’s a little bit disrespectful to Newcastle when some of the players do that.
“I don’t think that will be a problem with this kid.”
Sherwood then talked about his style of play, assesses the Algerian’s strengths and weaknesses and reveals why it’s key that Steve Bruce ‘simplifies’ the job he asks him to perform in midfield:
“He’s one of the fittest boys I’ve seen. I’ve heard people talking about him, saying he is just a sitting midfielder, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.
“If he just sits in your midfield then you’re taking away 80% of what he possesses which is energy, getting up and down.
“He’s very tenacious for someone who is a good size but not an enforcer size like a [Mousa] Demeble or a [Victor] Wanyama but he’s as aggressive as them.
“His strength is sometimes his weakness and that’s his emotion. That’s why he’s had a few problems where he’s been. He wanted to leave Tottenham because he was not getting the game time and I don’t think that’s a negative. I think that’s a positive.”
“He just wants to do whatever he’s asked to do.
“I think it’s really important that Steve simplifies the job for him because otherwise he will try and do everyone’s job and he does that because he thinks he’s doing right. It’s a good trait to have and you would rather slow them down than have to get the whip out.”
High praise indeed, both from physical, mental and technical perspective.
With Bentaleb confirming a few days ago that he is already planning to stay at the club beyond his season – hinting at a £8.5m permanent move – let’s hope he can impress over the coming months!