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Posted by Lars Knutsen on 01/19/2011

Darren who? Oh, you mean our ex-striker...

I can't believe how well it's gone. If the offer of an extension came up I'd be more than happy to sign it. It's all about the football up here. It's all passion, passion, passion, but the supporters' intensity has never scared me. They are looking at me to get the goals and that is a massive confidence booster. Darren Bent, December 2010.

So money was not a factor in this move, says Darren Bent. Villa is a massive club, he asserts. With Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, there’s a fantastic supply line. It’s just up to me to work on my finishing and try to put the chances away…

One day we might find out the truth behind all this. But for now Sunderland just have to collect the money, and move on. £24M is a lot for player just 3 years off his 30th birthday, and this has been a shock for the fans. It all happened so quickly. Inevitably, we feel let down by someone who scored so many goals for us, but also a person whose career we got back on track.

He is moving from a club which is 6th in the league, that is well-financed and a picture of stability, with great fans, an inspirational chairman as well as a plan for the future. Bent is moving to a club which is fighting relegation with a manager who is looking decidedly shaky. OK, Randy Lerner is finally opening his chequebook, but that is surely down to a sense of impending doom and panic at the prospect of playing at Doncaster and Scunthorpe next season.

I was there at Villa Park for the game the Black Cats won 1-0 on January 5th, and aside from Bardsley’s goal and Sunderland’s overall performance, what struck me most was Villa’s lack of confidence, which I believe is the real reason why they have slipped down the table. They have some great players, but is Darren Bent the guy to lift the dressing room? I guess if he scores regularly he will have a chance of doing that, but a lot of their problems lie in midfield, where Gareth Barry and James Milner have been replaced by young reserves, and Stephen Ireland has not settled.

Bent had an amazing season in 2009-10, but was then the main striker for Sunderland with Kenwyne Jones misfiring. This season the focus has been taken off him, with Welbeck and Gyan now at the club, and as stated in this blog, his heart has not really been in it recently. It has been speculated that Andy Reid’s absence from the team has restricted the supply of crosses.

Steve Bruce said: It's hugely disappointing that Darren has decided that his future lies away from Sunderland and the players, our supporters and the club as a whole have every right to feel massively let down. The timing is especially hard to take, given that we are progressing positively and are in a great position to push on. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of Darren in his time at Sunderland but it's obvious he's not been himself in training and we've certainly not seen the best of him in games in recent weeks - and we now understand why. I've always stated that my aim is to build a talented, young squad for the long-term to help the club achieve sustained success and I want Sunderland fans to know that our ambitions haven't changed on that front.

Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn added: Darren has now left the club and it's important we move on quickly. We've worked hard in the last 36 hours to get what we feel is a fair price for him. Of course it presents us with significant challenges from a football perspective which we didn't envisage, but we'll deal with it and are working hard to find a solution both in the short-term and more importantly the longer term.

Replacements: Robbie Keane would be good for the short term, especially with the strong Irish connection at the club. Supporters would also take to Peter Crouch. Charles N’Zogbia has been mentioned, but is he a 20-goals a season man? I have always admired John Carew, but he is reaching the end of his career. I am sure we could attract a number of stars from other top European leagues, but there is not long before the end of this transfer window. We need to be decisive and quick though if the club's push into European competitions is to continue this season.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen

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Posted by azuk on 01/19/2011

Finally open his cheque-book? £130m MON spent. in that time only Spurs and Man City spent more.

At least try and be factually acurate when trying to decry a club that didn't yo-yo between the championship and prem, and has over 20 major honours. This has really shown the country a lot about Newcastle fans not being the only conceited people in the north-west

Posted by billybob on 01/19/2011

Sunderland are 6th in the premiership now, and villa are only three wins away for joining them on the same points, they are going through a transitional period with a new manager but they have finshed 6th and qaulified the last 4 seasons for europe.

So all this balloney about sunderland being a better club means jack until the end of the season and im will to bet a few quid sunderland will not qualify for europe this season.

Villa have full international players in there squad, they may be under performing, but there are not many sunderland players that could walk into villa park and be guaranteed a game, 80 percent of the villa team would walk straight into sunderlands team.

Posted by Phillip bull on 01/19/2011

Nice article. Didn't think any of us will know why he joined us. Both arguments about money or bigger club are both viable.

We have had the same arguments over Barry and Milner.
But he is what we need and it's not about Lerner suddenly panicking, the money was always there to be spent he just did not trust O'Neill to spend it after Beye, Sidwell, Shorey NRC not getting a game to name but a few. Hope your season works out, not sure you would want Carew tho - he likes London nightclubs much more than graft.

Posted by Ashy on 01/19/2011


"Conceited people in North-west"
We are a north-EAST club you pillick, at least get your Geography right before commenting, my friend.

FYI Sunderland are a bigger club, with bigger fan base, we are actually a real place (where is Aston Villa anyway?), we have a better and bigger stadium and occupy 6th place in the Premiership. Stop living in the past by quoting our yo-yo seasons as we are now an established club and have done the double over you this season.

Bye bye Bent, hello 24million smackeroos!

Posted by Astonmilan on 01/19/2011

Not gonna start a slanging match, I like Sunderland, but money talks. Players are out to get the most for the time spent palying.

As for Villa being 16th, let Sunderland and the other 8 clubs above us play the remainder of the season using their youth squad and a couple of senior players and see where the end up. MON left us in the brown stuff, this shook the team, then up to 9 seniors out at once for a couple of months?

We are a big club, we have a nice trophy cabinet, Houllier is a quality manager, Bent knows this, others will come, And not the average stuff MON bought. Benitez won the CL with Houliers squad in 2005. We are in transition, but come April, we won't be 16th.

Posted by Mick on 01/19/2011

North-West Azul??? Think you had better consult a map, mate.

By the way you sound just like a Newcastle fan talking about your recent success in which you achieved very little.

We are a team on the up and you know it, so why does it matter about our yoyo past? We are assembling a good young team with plenty of English talent. Nobody talks about Blackpool's past!

Maybe a year in the Championship, the fizzy pop league, is what you need to bring you down to earth or is that not an option for a 'big club' like Villa....or Newcastle, Leeds, West Ham, Notts Forest, Middlesbrough???

Posted by SAFC-FTM on 01/19/2011

In response to "azuk" - before you go spouting off, you might want to have a look at a map first. Sunderland in the North-West. Really? Fair enough we have been a yo-yo club, and I will be the first to admit that. But it shows a lot when your club has to come to ours to get a striker to help you out.

Posted by Ian_SAfc on 01/19/2011

We need to spend that money on an "imposing figure" as you said. (Though I wouldn't like to see S'land become a long-ball team again).

Perhaps we might get two good players for Bent's fee? I'd like to see N'Zogbia plus someone else. That someone else: would be nice if it was Crouch but I don't think he and his wife would quit London for Sunderland.

With Welbeck & Campbell out for a number of weeks , we look light up front.

Posted by azuk on 01/19/2011

Fair enough, its North East, not North West, and i should be factually accurate when decrying a man's article! Now I walk away man who has the truth, with evidence, rather than childish, insulting, and inaccurate, conjecture.

Posted by tOODBOD on 01/19/2011

Steve Bruce: You've let the Sunderland fans down, you've let me down, your fellow players down but most importantly've let yourself down.

Posted by Bongo on 01/19/2011

Players come and go all the time. It's the nature of football now. We lost Milner at the start of the year (who is a far better player than Bent) but we got over it.

Anyway, was Darren Bent a product of Sunderland's youth program? No, you bought him from Tottenham. Maybe Bruce should take that into consideration before he starts bagging out the lad. After all, he now has 24 mill to spend on a replacement.....unless you have another "home grown" talent like Bent to take his place.

Posted by steven on 01/19/2011

First of all I will start by correcting you. Sunderland and Newcastle are in the NORTH EAST not the North West.

Anyway, what has Sunderland being a yo-yo club in its past got anything to do with Bent leaving. We have a clear ambition to be competing in Europe for a sustained period for the foreseeable future. Not just that, the club have the finances to do it. we have improved every year since being promoted in 2007. Fact.

I'm sorry, but joining Villa because of their previous silverware just doesn't wash. Yes, Villa have won more honours in the recent past but that doesn't mean they are guaranteed to in the future. You haven't won anything for 15 years, so it's not like he's guaranteed trophies, but I am not saying he would be guaranteed honours with us either. Players should live in the present, not the past. Currently we are a better team. Fact.

It's clear to see that he's gone for the money. It's evident in this article, look at the quotes from last month!! To suggest Villa are in a false position as well is laughable!

Posted by Scott on 01/20/2011

The 24 million isn't necessarily there atm. Niall Quinn has come out and said they still owe Spurs money for the original Bent move to Sunderland. Niall said that they need to buy from a club who don't mind being paid in stages. Still not a bad deal in the long run, and I'll be interested to see who the replacement is. Go the Black Cats!!

Posted by neilllydunn on 01/20/2011

Maybe Sunderland can buy Adebayor?????

Posted by Scott on 01/20/2011

I don't want to get into the who's club is better argument, but I'm a Sunderland guy living in Canada. It's a shame Villa are where they are I really think they are a solid team but no confidence right now.

The Lads however are finally having a season matching the stature of the club I've long felt we are. I can't believe Bent would do this and leave us soo little time in the window. We're a quality club run by quality men and of course we won't stand in his way, but it's so typical of our luck that when we're finally making a run at European football, he pulls this. Get bent, Bent. I know he's midfield but I really think Somen Tchoyi would be a great fit with Sunderland. Hope we can land someone of quality soon because Bent will be hard to replace. In Bruce we trust. HA'AWAY THE LADS!!!

Posted by Billy on 01/20/2011

How much of the $24 mill do Spurs get? I've heard 6 million for some reason....

Posted by Poland LFC on 01/20/2011


'Benitez won the CL with Houllier's squad in 2005.'

WHAT? Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso, two of the most important players that season, were both Benitez signings. He also championed the Carragher-Hyypia partnership.

Houlier also signed El Hadji Diouf, who was worse than all the Benitez flops combined (3 goals in 55 games) and is one of the most classless players out there.

I'm sorry, but Houllier needs to learn that he did not win that CL. Rafael Benitez did. If he was truly so good, why did he not win the CL himself. The answer is simple: he isn't.

Posted by TheJepit on 01/21/2011

Bent for 24 million, I'd say that's a good piece of business...

Good luck to him,..he will be the top scorer in the Championship next season...

Posted by Raza on 01/21/2011

24million is way too much money, even for a goal scorer like Bent. Sunderland should be happy they were at least able to get good money for him.

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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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