Bent scored 24 goals in the Premiership this season, finishing as the third highest goal scorer and the second highest scoring Englishman. With Fabio Capello stating when he first took the England job that he would ‘pick players on form’ then surely 24 goals is enough to guarantee a flight to South Africa. Obviously Capello doesn’t see it that way and has chosen Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe and Emile Heskey all ahead of him. Granted Rooney deserves to be on the plane ahead of him but there is a case to be made that Bent deserves to go ahead of the others.
Crouch has only scored eight Premier League goals this season and hasn’t been that prolific in previous years. Although he has a good international record of scoring goals, the majority of them have come against lesser opposition such as his hat-trick against Jamaica. He does offer good link-up play which Bent cannot and he is definitely more of a team player so he does deserve to go to the World Cup but still isn’t as much of a goal threat as Bent.
As for Defoe, despite him scoring 18 goals in the Premiership five of those came against Wigan in Tottenham’s 9-1 win and he got a hat-trick against relegated Hull; then in 2010 he only managed a measly five league goals. Also his international record for England isn’t brilliant with 11 goals in 40 games and he only scored one goal for England in his first 17 appearances.
Finally on to Heskey, the Aston Villa forward managed an embarrassing three league goals this season but that was somehow deemed good enough by Capello. Although Heskey is there for his contributions that he brings to the team when England already have Peter Crouch then what is the point of Heskey going? Surely a goalscorer like Bent would serve the team better.
It’s no surprise that all the strikers Capello called up play for big teams and you have to think that if Bent had scored 24 goals for Manchester United this season would he really not be going to the World Cup? How a player like Heskey can get away with three goals and still go to the biggest tournament in the world is a mystery, and had he been playing for Wolves this season there is surely no way he would have gone.
Unfortunately for Sunderland it may just have to be that Bent needs to move to a club with a higher profile to get the recognition that his goalscoring exploits deserve. He is good enough to play for most clubs but it’s uncertain who would make a move for him and where he would fit in best. It’s no secret that Bent needs a team that will play to his strengths for him to score goals, and this could be one of the reasons that he wasn’t selected for England. But if it provides results which he has proved that it can then there is no reason why a team can’t do it.
Hopefully Bent can keep the goals coming next season and then one of the big sides will take a chance on him. Right now he must surely be the unluckiest striker in the world with how his season has gone. But in his own words he’ll ‘pick himself up and start over again’ and with that mentality there is no doubt that he will achieve his goal of playing in a major tournament someday.