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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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  1. Sam

    April 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    shows how much you know..Bent is still loving goals and Villa are climbing the table whilst Sunderland have struggled ever since he left.

  2. Derek

    January 23, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    why dont u understand what the writer wants to say? if u have money to buy a striker worth $24 million, will u buy Bent? what can he add to a team which is strugelling? He is not a team player. I say he went out because of Gyan.. Let him go, black cats are better of without him..

  3. MergerMushtiBalls

    January 21, 2011 at 11:57 am

    We still believe… we still believe, we still believe/… fussballs coming home… 100 years ago, Rimet was still gleeming… 400 years ago, Jack Charlton was gone fishing… lol. You fellas make me laugh.

  4. robert

    January 20, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    meh. poor logic. and to call out someone’s intelligence at the beginning of a piece makes your own mistakes as a writer even more glaring.

  5. Pakapala

    January 20, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I am not sure what the point of this article is. What does Bent being english has to do wih whether he’s overpriced or not? The description outlined in the article could be applied to many 1-dimensional non-english strikers who command big transfer fees just because they’re not english. All that is asked of a pure striker is to just score goals, I don’t know since when this has become a bad thing.

  6. SoccerLimey

    January 20, 2011 at 2:37 am

    I’m probably in the minority to echo the thoughts in this post, although not quite in such an aggressive manner. I don’t rate Bent at all either, although he has a record of scoring goals, but I think he’s risen to his own level of incompetence. At Villa, it will be harder to succeed with their style, and there is no doubt that he is NOT international class. The fee is obscenely inflated.

  7. amavel

    January 19, 2011 at 5:19 am

    No, we (other nations) are not amazed by the money paid to EPL players. What amazes Americans is how terribly MLS players are paid. 40% of MLS make less than $50,000. Owners profits are soaring. Seattle sells out every match and seats 36,000

    • [OPTI] Madschester United

      January 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      replace MLS with any large company and you have same conclusion. MLS is a business, where players have little rights, owners (CEOs) are millionaires… are the players even in a union???

  8. Sascha

    January 19, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Bent is more of an off-the-shoulder kind of striker. That’s just the style of the way he plays. Not implying that he’s a horrible player.
    He could also be playing that way cause it suits him and the team or the coaches tactics or whatever.
    I think all strikers have a style and certain manner of playing that differs between them all, thus the way they score is different. Different type of striker, different defending is weak against it.

  9. Robin Curtis

    January 19, 2011 at 12:05 am

    I agree that the Article is biased, and one thing that was also missed is that if Sunderland sell Bent, and the Welbeck loan is recalled they will only have one proven striker next season, and they will be europe if they stay at their current position. The money is nice but I think sunderland are being retarded, because their squad will require depth if they are going to tackle 4 competitions.

  10. UNREAL

    January 18, 2011 at 11:49 pm


  11. Raleigh ViIllan

    January 18, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    I could be crazy here, but isn’t it the job of a striker to score goals? Bent scores goals and that’s exactly what Villa needs. This whole talk of Bent being a “stupid English footballer” is an opinion, based on a weak argument. Villa has better wingers than Sunderland, and I think his partnership with Agbonlahor can work well.

  12. Prayuj shakya

    January 18, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    It’s such a shame that a decent site like, “wait i said decent not exceptional”…has writers who can become a perfect example of lazy biased journalism. Don’t just look at one side of the coin,,,try flipping it the other way and look at it….$18 million transfer figure for bent is quite too much but, he’s goalscoring has been very impressive. because, villa had the money and faith on him, they tabled on a bid (villa made good money frm milner n barry FYI)….it was sunderland’s chairman Niall quinn who couldn’t offer to turn that money down….at this point of season, villa cannot gamble buying suarez, negredo, or any epl unproven striker and get stuck in the relegation battle….they don’t have a decent striker at the moment. So, the money is pretty much going to sunderland not bent….and don’t jump on the bandwagon just because he is trasfering to villa for that chunk of money….btw are u a Birmingham fan??? if u r then shame on ya!!!

    YNWA…..and We’re getting suarez……

  13. [OPTI] Madschester United

    January 18, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Bent’s scoring record is nothing short of exceptional. While he is certainly not world class a la Rooney, Torres, or Drogba, I think he is the best striker in the next class.

    I see him as younger Anelka. When I read Chelsea were interested, I was not excited (as a Utd fan!)…

  14. Blim

    January 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    My understanding is that over the last 4 seasons the only strikers to score more than the 81 goals that Bent scored are Rooney and Drogba who both scored 82. With that sort of form he should have gone to the world cup but the fact is he’s an ‘unfashionable’ striker and the Italian – who claims that form is everything to him – clearly doesn’t do ‘unfashionable’.

    I’d have preferred him to Torres at Anfield over the last couple of seasons, that’s for sure……

  15. brn442

    January 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I was following you until I came to your head scratching thesis on the “high price” of Bent and assumingly other English Players being a hinderance to developing local talent.

    • Dave C

      January 18, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Yeah that bit was kind of nonsense. The reason English players are overpriced is in part because of the new squad rules. Such a quota naturally increases the price of English players.

  16. Earl Reed

    January 18, 2011 at 10:13 am

    He’s played consistently in the top line since Mid-November. He missed time in November due to a hamstring injury.

    So I’m not sure where you get this: “as soon as any decent competition arrived at Sunderland he was been confined to the bench.” He has started consistently for the club since returning from that injury. While I’m not refuting your other points about his play, I don’t think there’s any evidence to say that he was relegated to the bench because of Gyan or Welbeck. In fact, I’d say that, if that were the case, they wouldn’t be able to ask AVFC for 20 million quid, eh?

    The other thing…you say that Bent got his nose bent out of shape with the signing of Gyan, and that caused him to fuss and guss over the summer. Gyan was signed in late August, so if he was throwing a hissy fit, how could it be because they signed Gyan?

  17. Kyle

    January 18, 2011 at 10:12 am

    The problem I have with this article is it sounds like he’s blaming Bent for that transfer fee. He has no control over the amount Villa pay for him, why go after the player?

  18. mickey je

    January 18, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Why shouldn’t Darren Bent earn as much as Rooney? Bent score goals even though he has been playing for the lower teams. He has scored more than the players in the so called “big four”. Imagine how many goals the guy will score if the services Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea give their strikers. Bent is a good player whether he is English or not and sunderland should give him respect cos he has done well for them. P.S Walcott is the problem with English football.

  19. lol

    January 18, 2011 at 9:28 am

    but his last name is still bent.

    proper bent.

    110% BENT

    • eddie torres

      January 18, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      Houllier: Mr. Lerner, I need $20 million for a striker.
      Lerner? $20 MILLION? Get bent, Houllier!
      Houllier: Hmmm. Bent, eh? $20 million? Well, alright.

      **end scene**

  20. Thomas

    January 18, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Luis Suarez has now been valued at 23 million pounds by Ajax. Some clubs are going to get very rich thanks to Villa’s buying Bent for 19 million pounds which could rise to 24 miliion pounds.

  21. James

    January 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

    The conspiracy theorist in me says Villa are doing this on purpose to drive up prices for players so that other clubs fighting relegation, think Liverpool, will have to think twice about spending over 20 million for a player. Liverpool are interested in Suarez of Ajax who wanted 15 million pounds. Now they would want 25 million as Suarez is a better footballer all around. The same would be true for other teams interested in players to help them get out of the bottom.

    Bent is not the type of player that can create for his team-mates. He also cannot beat defenders which is why he is a one-dimensional player.

  22. Luke

    January 18, 2011 at 8:25 am

    On the money as usual John with the exception of “as soon as any decent competition arrived at Sunderland he was been confined to the bench” – he’s started every game he’s been fit for.

    Bent was exactly what we needed last season, but we look a better footballing side with Gyan and Welbeck up front, even if Gyan is very erratic.

    I’ll be very sad to see Bent go, but more so because he seemed to have a genuine bond with the club (or so we thought) rather than because of his actual abilities.

  23. James

    January 18, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Ridiculously unobjective article. Just because you don’t like the player’s motives, doesn’t make it a bad move. In the last 5 seasons, only Rooney or Drogba have scored more goals than Bent in the Premier League. That is why Villa are buying him.

    My question would be – if Lerner gave you 20million to spend on a proven goalscorer, who would you sign? Factoring, realistically, who Villa might be able to attract?

    Tough one, isn’t it.

    Bent is exactly the kind of player Villa need, and exactly the kind of player that is very hard to find in the current market. This is why the price-tag is so huge.

    • Dave

      January 19, 2011 at 4:31 am

      Not to mention that Villas young fast wingers will mesh with his play as they can feed him the ball on fast crosses.

  24. Cally

    January 18, 2011 at 8:20 am

    To one of the comments. You say that Bent has still outscored Gyan. That may be true but doesn’t tell the whole story. Bent 20 starts 8 goals. 3 of those penalties. Gyan 8 starts 7 goals all from open play. Plus he’s different class as a footballer to Bent

    • Dan

      January 18, 2011 at 8:42 am

      my point was that the author of the article decided gyan was a better player despite gyan having only been in england for half a season. maybe he is, maybe he isnt, its not really the point. bent is still a class goalscorer and still has a good record this season

  25. Dan

    January 18, 2011 at 7:42 am

    ah fair enough yeah, i thought that was all competitions.

  26. MikeD

    January 18, 2011 at 7:24 am

    Their top scoring striker is Heskey with 3 goals. They’re paying a hefty January premium, but Bent just scores goals, which is exactly what they need. 24 goals last season, 8 in 20 this season. It’s funny, Heskey is a good all-around player who gets criticized for not scoring goals and Bent is a bad all-around player who gets criticized because all he does is score goals. Maybe they’ll form a great partnership.

    Houllier certainly has contacts outside England, but how many prolific goalscorers are actually available in January and willing to go to Aston Villa? If they buy someone from outside England, it could take them a while to settle and then they find themselves in the Championship. It’s a bad situation that called for desperate measures.

    • Dan

      January 18, 2011 at 7:36 am

      heskey has 6 goals this season, get your facts right. good buy for villa if they can make it happen, the criticism of bent in this article is entirely unjustified. third best scorer in the premier league since 2005, if thats not worth paying 20 million for then i dont know what is. hes also a much better all round player than people seem to credit him for. also, assuming gyan is better than bent when hes been playing in the league for half a season makes no sense, especially since bent has in fact still outscored gyan with 11 goals already in 2010/11. blanket statements like ‘darren bent is what is wrong with english football’ are simply unfounded

      • MikeD

        January 18, 2011 at 7:38 am

        Dan, all the numbers I quoted are league goals.

  27. Eliot Prince

    January 18, 2011 at 7:20 am

    An incredibly one sided article! Darren Bent maybe a little one dimension, but that is usually scoring goals which is the most important part of football.. Bent is not the problem, Villa are the problem if they will pay 20 odd million for him. Don’t think you can particularly blame Bent if he does move Villa have been a better team than Sunderland over the past few seasons

    • Byrneszie

      January 18, 2011 at 7:59 am

      Don’t look at previous seasons, look at this season, okay say Bent is a success in getting Villa out of regulation, and back to battling for a Europe spot next season with them, is he then going to be upset again because he isn’t going to be a main man in a team battling for a spot, therefore transferring once again to a lower team in the league just to be ‘Mr. Everything’?, i find this a crazy request in the sense that i thought every footballer would want to play as high as they can and in international cups.

      Just my opinion, everyone is welcome to one.

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