Unfortunately for Aston Villa , the one change that current pantomime Villain, Alex McLeish , made in bringing in Darren Bent for Marc Albrighton did not pay off: in fact one word used to describe the decision was “clueless.” However, having been scrutinised earlier in the month for shopping whilst injured, as his team mates played a PL fixture, it seemed that his return was as warmly received as his absence just a few weeks earlier: surprising considering that he is Aston Villa’s top scorer this season.
However, while there may well be a wise few content with Bent – who is averaging a goal every other game for The Claret and Blues – the same wise few may well acknowledge that Bent’s prolific start at Villa, supplied by the ferocious wing play of Stewart Downing and Ashley Young , has become somewhat jaded – now only averaging one in three this season – since his former teammates moved on to bigger and better things at Liverpool and Manchester United respectively: now it might be Bent’s turn to move on up.
Martin O’Neill left Aston Villa at the dawn of last season’s Premier League campaign under situations imposed by club chairman, Randy Lerner, who insisted that O’Neill would have to sell if he wanted to buy, having seen Gareth Barry leave the season before and Milner leaving, also for Manchester City , at the time of his resignation. Now, it looks like the same policy is in place for Alex McLeish if he wishes to improve Villa’s fortunes, as they sit in 13th place having lost 2-0 at home to Swansea, who recorded their first away win of the season.
One man that could fund such a mid-season revamp, for the team that is looking a shadow of the side Martin O’Neill led to three successive top-six finishes in the Barclays Premier League, is Darren Bent. Bent, who urged his team to build on their New Years Eve victory, “It was a massive result to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – not many teams will do that this season – so we can take a lot of confidence from that going into the game against Swansea,” failed to recognise that Chelsea haven’t lost at home as frequently as they have this season since the days of Ranieri and failed to take any confidence on to the pitch, not recording a shot until the 90th minute, having spent the game committing fouls: 3 to be precise.
However, until Marc Albrighton took to the pitch with little over 20 minutes left and the game already lost for Villa, Bent was never going to score: the service wasn’t there and the spearhead of a Villa attack was left isolated, reminiscent of his England performance against Spain, where scraps were the only balls that Bent was going to be able to strive off of; a move to Liverpool could benefit both parties.
Although Bent is doing his best to sound enthused about his current supply, “With Charles N’Zogbia on the left and Marc Albrighton the right you know, as a striker, that the ball is going to come into the box,” a move to Liverpool would see Bent reunited with Stewart Downing , the man who made him shine when he first came to Villa Park and a reunion may well benefit Downing too, as he continues to draw criticism from fans of his own club and the nation alike. Last season, Bent joined Villa with a goalscoring record of one every 174 minutes in all club competitions and the prolific scoring form in which he joined the Villains, having scored 36 goals in 62 games for Sunderland, a ratio of 1 every 152 minutes, undoubtedly secured Downing’s high chances created figure of 1.71 a game, in the 10/11 PL campaign.
Over the past five years, having created 65 goal-scoring chances last season to add to his already impressive career tally, Downing is only behind fellow Liverpool player, Gerrard, retired Red Devil Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs , English midfielder Frank Lampard and the since PL departed Cesc Fabregas, when it comes to setting up goal-scoring opportunities. This season, Downing has missed Bent: despite creating 39 goal-scoring chances for his teammates this season, he hasn’t got any assists to his name, compared to his former fellow Villain winger, Ashley Young who has created 18 chances and has 5 assists to his name at Manchester United. Bent could change opinion on, not only himself, but an underrated and undervalued Stewart Downing.
However, the Aston Villa boss has stated he has no intention of selling off the England international, who cost £24million last January,”I say that now, he won’t be leaving.” Furthermore, some sections of the Liverpool fan base believe that the transfer talk circulating Bent is a helpful smokescreen for the signing of Luuk De Jong , which may present itself as the better option for The Reds if the unlikely rumour that the unknown striker Chelsea are in for is in fact Darren Bent . Either way, McLeish denying the possibility of Bent departing is irrelevant: Wenger denied an interest in Henry early in December and now it is all but confirmed and closer to home, Villa denied Downing leaving, as well as Gareth Barry when he left for Manchester City in 2009.
Liverpool need a striker and Aston Villa need the money – but who can hold their own the longest or find a better deal in a predicted tighter market than 2011?
Written by Jordan Florit for This is Futbol
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