Darren Bent is Exactly What is Wrong With English Football

Darren Bent is what I call a stupid English footballer. It’s not a reflection on his intelligence per se, though I’m pretty sure he’s no educated sophisticate.

Here is a decent player, not exceptional but decent. But he has a small football brain. He hangs on the shoulder of the defender and hopes to get a run in on goal. That’s about it. He can strike a ball and run at pace into the channels but that’s your lot with Darren. It’s OK, not a bad way to make a living but it is far from exceptional and certainly not worth 20 bloody million quid.

He’s about fourth or fifth choice striker for England at a time of poverty of striking options and as soon as any decent competition arrived at Sunderland he will be confined to the bench.

If you want a man to set up goals, he’s not that. If you want a team player, he’s not really that either. If you want someone who won’t throw a moody and get in a huff, he’s not that either. But he does score quite a few goals and he thinks this makes him much, much better than he really is.

As soon as Sunderland signed Asamoah Gyan it seems his nose was put out of joint because he’d no longer be the main man. Gyan is a far superior player already and will get better still but no matter, Darren was in a huff and wanted a transfer last summer.

Then Gyan and Wellbeck start to play well together and Sunderland stabilize their position in the top six without reliance on Bent’s goals. He should have been delighted to play his part in this but of course, a man of Darren’s magnificent talent couldn’t tolerate such a situation and so he bit Villa’s hand off for a move as soon as he could.

The lunacy of paying over 20 million for a player of Bent’s limited abilities beggars belief. The fact he’d leave a club in a European spot for a relegation fight beggars belief.

The fact that Sunderland will make the thick end of 10 million profit from him after his goals helped push them into a position to attract better players is a superb result for Steve Bruce. So in that sense, everyone is happy. Bent can go to a club and be the big man while he and his agent can benefit from a cut of another massive transfer fee.

However, it is the ludicrous over-pricing of English players in the English game that is killing the progress of young English talent. Faced with such stupid money, its no wonder every manager will look to a kid from Europe or further afield rather than buy an English player. The fact is, English players with any sort of talent are hugely over-priced. As Bent so well proves, its not even as though you can be sure they’ll settle into the club. Southern players notoriously seem to find it hard to adapt to life in the north east, at least as hard as overseas players if not more so.

Why are Villa paying so much bloody money for such a one-dimensional player? If he doesn’t score goals he brings little else to the party. It is astonishing and does Houllier no credit. If Lerner tightening the purse strings was the cause of O’Neill walking out, the Northern Irishman must be looking on in astonishment as so much is being splashed out on such an unexceptional player.

Other nations must look on and laugh at how much money is spent on stupid English footballers. When will it end?

Editor’s Note: Johnny’s new book: “We Ate All The Pies: How Foot­ball Swal­lowed Britain Whole” is avail­able via Ama­zon US or Ama­zon UK.

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