ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Sunderland
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Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/17/2011

The media is full of reports that Darren Bent has handed in a written transfer request, and Steve Bruce has confirmed to ESPNsoccernet that the England striker is talking to Aston Villa. Like many Sunderland fans, I must admit I am stunned, but on reflection this could also be very good business for the Black Cats, if they can secure a replacement during this transfer window. Nobody wants to see a good, even great goalscorer leave the club, but Darren Bent has not had a great season by his standards – he has been struggling for form. He has been missing "easy" chances and did not trouble Steve Harper much on Sunday; he was playing as if he was carrying a burden, and now this news has come out today.

I doubt if Aston Villa will be the only team bidding now that the transfer request appears to have been accepted. Liverpool would be foolish not to go for him. In Steve Bruce’s shoes, would you want to hang on to a player if he is not happy? And a fee of £18 million rising to £24 million could be enough to lure the player away. Bent’s record of 32 goals in 58 league games for Sunderland since leaving Tottenham in a £10 million deal in August 2009 is remarkable, but as a fan, I would say his heart has not really been in it in the last few months. He is a great finisher, but not a style player and in this blog I have remarked on his lack of killer instinct this season. He has been very committed in the games against top teams, holding the ball up well, but he hardly showed up against Notts County in the FA Cup and in games against the struggling Premier League teams this season.

Chairman Niall Quinn must be aware of the story of Bob Murray, a predecessor at the SSOL, who turned down a £16 million bid for Sunderland legend Kevin Phillips only to sell the striker to Southampton for £3 million less than two years later. Quinn has learnt from that mistake, and we have to admit that although our hearts say do not sell your best players, football is also a business and each business has to watch the bottom line, and not allow its assets to become devalued.

An issue with the geography of the club is that many talented players just don't want to live too far away from the SE of England, unless they are in a top six team with the chance of Champions League football. They get less exposure in the NE, which in the end will mean less international recognition, despite playing well for the Black Cats. This has been an issue for the club since the 1950s and even before that.

What leaks out of a club is often the tip of an iceberg. Bent may feel overshadowed by Gyan, who is extrovert and maybe better looking! Welbeck has also come in and done an excellent job, and whereas Bent was almost the only show in town in front of goal last season, he has not had things all his own way in this campaign. One question for me though is how did Bent know there was apparently a bid put in for him, was the approach from Villa communicated to him?

So again we have to trust Steve Bruce's stewardship of the club, he knows what he is doing, as he showed with Kenwyne Jones, and if he can persuade John Carew to come to the North-East, to partner with Gyan and Welbeck, that may be a sound short-term solution. We will be sad to see Darren go, but what can you do? There may be some more twists and turns, and if it was Newcastle bidding for him, we would keep the guy to his contract, but we have done the double over Villa, and the club regrettably needs to take the cash and move on.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen

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Posted by What the hell? on 01/17/2011

Sign up Bent!

Posted by Gary Cawood on 01/17/2011

I am happy if he will come to Aston Villa, he come help us stay up in league this season. We will need somebody to score goal nows and we need him for Saturday at home to Man City.

Posted by AJ on 01/17/2011

Talk about a windfall for Sunderland. This makes so much business sense for them that there's no way they could turn it down. Why Bent is leaving for Villa is beyond me, he's not THAT out of form and could easily make a home for himself up there. This reeks of something that hasn't been revealed yet and I'm looking forward to reading the story when something comes to light.

Posted by mackemant on 01/17/2011

Amount of money makes sense for Sunderland. I hope they can even improve it by involving other clubs e.g. Liverpool etc. And amazingly perhaps, Bent is not the best striker at Sunderland. Gyan is. And Wellbeck is a much better long (and perhaps short) term prospect. We could use that money to improve the team elsewhere. But I really hope the "bulls**t" comment reportedley made by Bruce regarding Michael Owen deal is true. He is simply a crock....

Posted by mike g. on 01/17/2011

This is a good pick up for the Villains but i don't know if he is worth 24 m....maybe like 15m

Posted by Kev Mo on 01/18/2011

Some people thought Sunderland paid too much for Asamoah Gyan at £13 million. But working in this later deal it would be like trading Bent and getting Gyan + £11 million in return (or enough to buy another quality player). I would have to say a win for Sunderland depending on what they do with the extra money.

As for Bent, I'm not sure if he will be happier moving from a top half club to a bottom half club.

Posted by D Colley on 01/18/2011

Take the money, buy Robby Keane for $3 mil. He will be aiming to please - translation score goals. You can pay him and his wages for a short while and still pocket the dough. Not sure if Sir Alex is going to let Welbeck stay after this year so who else is available? Carlton Cole?

Posted by Richard Nichols on 01/18/2011

I think any team would be happy to let Bent go for that kind of money. To me "Bent is spent" after a couple of good years in the books and he is 27.

Posted by vijay on 01/18/2011

Do you really think Bent chose to move to Aston Villa, and a relegation battle rather than pushing for Europe?

Looks more like it was Clubs decision first.

Posted by wing on 01/18/2011

Great piece of business from Sunderland's point of view. I disagree with a ESPN expert's claim that "Bent will guarantee goals". Different teams have different playing style and chemistry. A world star like Messi of course it wouldn't be much a problem cos he's the real deal.

Bent, if he really could guarantee goals, Spurs wouldn't have let him go. And bottom line is, for 24Mill, we are talking about at least a 25+ goals a season striker. Can he do that with Villa? And Villa, if you could back Houllier with that kind of money, why couldn't you back Martin O'Niell? Hadn't that been the reason O'Neill quit at the first place? Well, anyway, the football world just can't stop amazing us.

Posted by Trevor Jonas on 01/19/2011

It was not for nothing that Spurs sold Darren.
He simply misses too many easy opportunities and opportunities don't come that often in the premier league.
Sunderland cash in while the goings good.

Posted by james on 01/19/2011

You figure Bent is overpriced by 8 million but it's well spent if it keeps Villa up. I dont buy the "were too good to go down" crap.... we have too few points at this stage of the season and looked as unlikely as we were likely to double that....and where does that leave us?

Houllier with what i suspect is the a biggest slice of dumb luck he's ever had (that of Bent becoming available and interested in us) has hopefully changed our season in 2 brief days. Pires coming was a joke and we were supposedly linked with Bridge and Owen to name but 2 other has beens. Maybe now GH will discover what a tactic is...I havnt seen anything worth the name so far under his "leadership". Tick tock...

Posted by HappyMackem on 01/19/2011

Having sat back and thought about Bent's move to Villa I now consider this to be a wise move by SAFC. His recent form has been poor to say the least and anyone who claims Bent didn't know of Villa's interest beforehand is either a fool or a liar.

Sunday's game against the Mags proved he wasn't in the right frame of mind as he obviously pondered his future and ignored any loyalty to the red & white fans. Admittedly he has been a great asset to the club but has now proven himself to be a money grabbing liar with less integrity than a Liberal party leader. Gloat while you can Villains but a word of caution; as soon as Bent spies an opportunity to move on and fatten his wallet I guarantee his loyalty to you will mirror that shown to us. His word is far from his bond.

Rumour is Steve Bruce had no say in this matter with the American owners demanding cash from the club. Let's hope this is just rumour and that Steve is given the money to strengthen an injury hit, and betrayed, squad.

Posted by abe on 01/19/2011

This is quite funny. When he moved to Sunderland, all the Sunderland fans went on about "bad" Spurs were to him, and how committed he was at Sunderland - and how he found "home". Spurs fans were quick to point out that:
(1) Bent does not like pressure
(2) he does well when you play in a certain system and (3) he must be the main guy and be loved.

Well Sunderland are looking to go places and are doing well. You also have Gyan and Waelbeck. So suddenly there is more pressure (mid-table is not good enough). The system is different (not 4-5-1) and he is not the "main man". The likes of Gyan and Welbeck are getting more credit. So bent is not happy - just like at Spurs.

Finally, he did not leave Spurs for 10 million. that was the initial fee. The total fee was 16.5 million (what Spurs played Charlton). Mr Levy is no mug!

Posted by Thomas Hall on 01/19/2011

£18mm, potentially £24m for Darren Bent? Not good business, GREAT business.

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Put your trust in God and keep your powder dry.

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Lars Knutsen Lars Knutsen was born in Sunderland of Norwegian parents across the Wear from the SSOL back when shipbuilding not car manufacture was the city’s main industry. His first game was in 1968 and he has followed the Black Cats since then, with great memories of the 1973 FA Cup. He hopes the “yo-yo” days are over and defines supporting a team by whether the result affects your mood (but maybe not in the way portrayed in the book “Fever Pitch”!) so has been cheerful recently. He endured school in Newc**tle, has a Ph.D. in Chemistry, a Professorship at Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and works in the Pharma industry as a consultant Medicinal Chemist.

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