Cotterill: Ben Haim deserves a second chance

Tal Ben Haim in action against Chelsea
Tal Ben Haim in action against Chelsea
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill insists Tal Ben Haim deserves his second chance at Pompey.

The Israel defender has been given a lifeline by the Blues boss after his days at the club look numbered.

Upon his return from a loan spell at West Ham, Ben Haim was unable to play for the second half of last season as a complicated wage wrangle took place between the Blues and the player over his contract.

The saga was resolved earlier this month when new Pompey owners Convers Sports Initiatives came to agreement with Ben Haim over monies owed.

Since then, the 29-year-old has featured in the Blues’ two pre-season friendlies.

Despite some Pompey fans criticising Ben Haim for his lack of action last term, Cotterill believes the former Chelsea man was a victim of circumstances.

And the Pompey manager is keen to use a proven international in his first-team plans for the new campaign rather than look to move him on.

Cotterill said: ‘I don’t think Tal was fairly treated last year and that is easier for me to say now.

‘It got a bit political and I couldn’t talk too much about Tal last season.

‘Now that’s been resolved.

‘It was tough on him last season and there were a few things that were swept under the carpet.

‘If he comes back in and does well for us, we’ll be delighted.

‘He’s got a squad number and he’s a good lad.

‘He was training from Monday to Friday last season and doing nothing at the weekend, but it didn’t influence his attitude in training. Hopefully, he will get his rewards.’

Ben Haim’s huge salary – believed to be around £36,000 per week – saw Pompey desperate to get him off the wage bill last season.

It remains a possibility that Pompey will still look to move him on this summer.

But Cotterill feels Ben Haim’s wealth of top-level experience can be a valuable asset to his squad.

Cotterill said: ‘Irrespective of who earns what, he doesn’t get any preferential treatment. They all get treated the same.

‘I had no problems with Tal last season. He trained with us for about four or five months and we were absolutely down to the barebones but I couldn’t play him and that caused me a lot of headaches.

‘I wasn’t able to play an experienced player who has played at a good level for a lot of his career. I didn’t just have it with him, I had it with three or four others as well.

‘He probably had a right to be a bit annoyed last season, although not with me.’

Ben Haim certainly looks trim and sharp in Pompey’s pre-season campaign so far, although he was unfortunate to net an own goal against Chelsea in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat.

Cotterill said: ‘He has trained with his national team coach three times per week throughout the summer.

‘He’s looked very fit and I’m really pleased with how he’s done.

‘Tal will get blamed for the own goal but Greg (Halford) completely missed it.

‘It ended up being in Tal’s face before he knew it so he was unfortunate there, but I thought he did well after that.’