by Daniel Ivery
I have to admit, it hurt me inside when Darren Bent agreed to sign for Aston Villa. Not because I believed that my team, my beloved Blues, would ever have the chance of signing a player I considered to be the most prolific English scorer in English league football, but because he was going to those bastards over the road. It was once again proof that despite the fact we won a trophy last season, the fact we qualified for Europe on merit, that our hated brethren from across the A38(M) had pockets deep enough to save them from the ignominy of relegation.
It’s a twist of fate I guess that the selling manager was ol’ Potato Head — a former Blues manager no less. Poor old Brucey complained of tapping up, of unsettling his star asset, but he knew when that when Randy Lerner got the chequebook out, that there was only going to be one winner — the same team that always wins in the Premiership — money.
At least the speed of the transfer didn’t give Mr Bent the time to complain on Twitter about the prospect of being sold to a team like Stoke. Oh how we laughed when Darren espoused out loud about his reticence to move to the Potteries from White Hart Lane; clearly he’d been to enough nightclubs in Hanley to know to avoid the place like the bloody plague. It’s hard to blame him for it.
The thing is, as a Bluenose we’re not used to strikers that actually score goals. Once in a blue moon we’ll get the oddity that doesn’t read the script, like the ginger Finn who’s just signed for Leeds United. We get strikers with the skill but who can’t do anything but pass it to the keeper a la “Chucho” Benitez. We get the strikers who run their knackers off every game, but put the one chance they do get into the crowd, a la Cameron Jerome. We even get the strikers who’ve played for everyone else without scoring and just joined us because he wanted the complete set of scarves on his bedroom wall — like the crappy Bent of the Marcus variety.
Oh for a striker like Darren Bent. I heard a stat a while back that when he was at Sunderland, he scored twenty odd goals in one season — and yet had just one assist. He’s lazy, he can’t do shit outside the box, but he just has that knack of sticking it in the onion bag. My God, what I wouldn’t give for that at St Andrews. I couldn’t give a toss if a striker spends half the game picking which girl in the crowd he’s going to roast that night if he scores at a one in two ratio. All I ever want to see at football is my team score — and Darren Bent does that in spades.
Here’s the good bit though. Finally, there may be some respite for me — because the manager who led a tactically stale, boring, defensive and eventually relegated team at St Andrews has taken his thirty pieces of silver and joined the dark side. Gone are the classy players who galloped down the flanks leading another claret and blue counter attack, and in it’s place it’s the sight of Emile Heskey in midfield, a team set up not to lose — and Darren Bent standing on his own up front forlornly awaiting the ball. It might be the only defender to stop Darren Bent scoring will be Alex McLeish — and that’s just fine by me.