In the wake of Aston Villa’s 1-0 away win at Sunderland on Saturday, I’d be happy if we sold Darren Bent in January, provided we get the right price for him. What is the right price? I don’t know; I’ll let Paul Lambert decide. I think it’s pretty clear now for all to see that he won’t be playing in an Aston Villa shirt next season though.
Bent did recover from a bad injury at the tail-end of last season and that could well be the reason to his sloppy form at the beginning of this season, but lately we are such a better team with him either on the bench or not in the squad at all. After some good early team performances, against Newcastle United and Swansea City in particular, we seemed to be set well as a team and be on for a decent season – or so we thought.
Things soon turned out to be very different, and we had to take note of the real danger of relegation that we were, and still are, in. So does a team fighting to stave off relegation really need a 20-a-season striker like Bent?
After some good early team performances, against Newcastle United and Swansea City in particular, we seemed to be set well as a team and be on for a decent season – or so we thought
You simply can’t deny that he is a brilliant goal-scorer and you’ll never find me arguing that, but I now see an argument once made to me that Bent is a luxury player. In a game which you are dominating and creating many chances then he’s a great addition, but in a game where you need all ten outfield players involved in build-up play then he’s a treat Villa can’t afford. We don’t dominate many games, we don’t create endless chances game after game, and we don’t need a poacher whose only contribution to the team is a goal every now and then.
At 2PM on Saturday the Villa team news was announced for the game against Sunderland, and Bent hadn’t even travelled to Sunderland with the rest of the squad. The official line from the club was that he had injured his foot in training the previous day, how true this is I’m not sure. Surely if he had injured himself in Friday’s training session then it would have been talked about in the Friday press conference?
It could be that Lambert didn’t want to give any tactical clues away to Martin O’Neill for what kind of strike-force he may deploy, but it’s not like Bent being out of the starting 11 is even a surprise anymore. There’s also a photo of Bent with Chris Herd’s girlfriend doing the rounds, and rumours of Bent being disciplined for a fall out with his Villa teammate – again how much of this is true I have no idea but it’s too much to all be a coincidence now.
You simply can’t deny that he is a brilliant goal-scorer and you’ll never find me arguing that, but I now see an argument once made to me that Bent is a luxury player
So match-time and we start with Benteke again. The formation from the last league game however has changed, with more of a 4-3-3/4-5-1 look about it. Gabby Agbonlahor to the left and Andi Wiemann to the right of the powerful Belgian, it seemed to work pretty well. Benteke was absolutely unplayable and despite not scoring; I find it hard to think of a game where he has performed better and influenced it so much.
Like John Carew a few seasons ago, he bullied the opposition defence and won header after header, held the ball up superbly, and showed some more of the clever touches we’re becoming accustomed to seeing. He didn’t score and it was against a less than impressive Sunderland side that have had their fair share of problems, so I can understand any scepticism, but the influence he had on play is what was most encouraging for me. With Benteke we have a focal point and with the money we would receive from selling Bent, we could definitely bring in some more experienced players and look towards a far better second half of the season.
Personally, I’m at the stage now where I’d sell Bent. I’m sure there’ll be a game in the not too distant future where I’ll regret saying it, but that’s football. We need reinforcements and this is far more likely to happen with the sale of Bent than if he were to stay at Villa – Lambert no doubt knows his plans already.
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