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Bent makes dream start at Villa

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Phil McNulty | 22:11 UK time, Saturday, 22 January 2011

Villa Park

The natural gift that persuaded Gerard Houllier to part with £24m was encapsulated in Darren Bent's first - and indeed only - significant contribution of a triumphant Aston Villa debut.

Bent made contact with the ball a mere 27 times in 90 minutes, but his appeal to Villa was illustrated in the decisive touch that beat Manchester City and made the first repayment on Houllier's lavish investment.

He was barely seen before or after the 18th minute when he reacted first to a loose ball as City keeper Joe Hart pushed out Ashley Young's shot, scoring with the minimum of fuss from an angle in a moment in which the match was won.

Bent's critics paint a picture of a player of limitations, but Houllier and Villa will be happy to work within them if his strike rate remains as efficient as it was here.

Bent has scored on his debut at two previous clubs, Charlton and Sunderland

Bent has scored on debut at two previous clubs, Charlton and Sunderland

He has become, at the end of a week of acrimony with former club Sunderland and manager Steve Bruce, the symbol of the new Houllier era at Aston Villa.

Bent's signing is the show of faith from owner Randy Lerner that confirms Houllier is at Villa Park for the long haul - and is a statement of intent from the manager that he is now building his own squad to replace the one he inherited from Martin O'Neill.

Houllier's own stock will rise with results such as this against a City side with designs on the Premier League title and beyond, while Bent's presence galvanised Villa's fans and gave renewed confidence to team-mates who know they have a new match-winner in their ranks.

Bent was tireless, mostly without the ball, but his business is goals and for all the nit-picking about technique and talent there are few more reliable marksmen in the domestic game.

He displayed an economy and ruthlessness in front of goal that would have served Roberto Mancini's side well as he won the £51m battle of the strikers with City's own stellar signing Edin Dzeko.

Dzeko had an unfulfilling match which included wasting one of City's best chances with a late header. The Bosnian's partnership with Carlos Tevez is still a work in progress, but this tall and elegant figure showed enough in flashes to suggest he will be a big success at Eastlands and a real threat once attacking bonds with his colleagues are forged.

He has all the hallmarks of a class act and his willingness to get around the pitch as well as into the danger areas bodes well for Mancini and City in the vital weeks ahead this season.

This was Bent's day, however, and after the ill-feeling provoked by his abrupt departure from The Stadium of Light he looked relieved to be back and doing what is comes naturally, namely scoring goals.

Early days it is true, but the buoyancy from Houllier and Villa's players as they kept City at bay to earn three points was another sign that optimism may be returning after the dark early days of this season.

Houllier believes the 1-0 win against City was not simply the result of Bent providing end product that has been missing before, but the culmination of a steady improvement since the turn of the year.

He said: "Darren's finishing touch was that of a natural born goalscorer. You can't teach this and he was full of composure. This is why he is here - to score goals and help us to win football matches at Aston Villa.

"The boy handled it all well after all that has happened this week. I think he was ready to play. It is easy for him to settle in because he knows a lot of the players through playing with various England teams. He is a good lad and I'm pleased for him."

He added: "I think we hit rock bottom when we lost 4-0 at Manchester City last month. We are together a bit more, working together a bit more and this is, of course, a fantastic result for us given the quality of the opposition. Slowly we are getting stronger, mentally and physically."

Houllier did his best to assist Bent by providing him with plenty of attacking support in the shape of Gabriel Agbonlahor and the excellent Marc Albrighton, with Young and Stewart Downing also providing supply lines.

And it was not simply Bent who gave Houllier pleasure. He found star men elsewhere in a performance he described as "immense" and a result that eased Villa's concerns about hovering in and around the Premier League drop zone.

If Bent wrote the headlines, Villa's real heroes were defenders James Collins and Richard Dunne. Collins put his body, often literally, in the way of every moment of danger while the ponderous and disaffected Dunne of a few weeks ago was replaced by the mountainous defensive barrier of old.

Houllier has hardly been awash with high points since taking over at Villa Park last September, but some of the criticism has been extreme as he has been unable, until now, to put his own stamp on the squad left behind by O'Neill.

And Lerner's sanctioning of the club record deal for Bent silences any lingering suggestion that Houllier would not be around to undertake further reconstruction in the summer. This alone removes some of the uncertainty and rancour he has been subjected to.

This was Houllier's best day since arriving - but it was a day Mancini and City may yet look back on with great regret when the final calculations of this season are made.

For all the attacking riches on display such as Dzeko, Tevez, David Silva and with Adam Johnson introduced early in the second half, the impression remains of a team, to use one of Arsene Wenger's favourite phrases, playing with the handbrake on.

And if the handbrake was not on, then this at least seemed a City side reluctant to hit top gear, especially in the first half when they cut a relatively timid presence.

Mancini's default position is conservatism and while his philosophy is never going to allow City's wonderful attacking flair players to cut loose and run free, they would surely benefit from being let off the leash a little.

It was only in the second half that they applied serious pressure and by then Collins and Dunne had drawn the battle lines. Villa enjoyed a moment of good fortune when Ciaran Clark deflected Nigel de Jong's shot on to a post late on but no-one could seriously begrudge them their luck.

Whether it is under orders from Mancini or an unlikely lack of self-belief from such a talented group of players, City can present a frustrating spectacle and this was one of those occasions.

Houllier and Villa, in contrast, were jubilant. They needed an inspiration as much as the Holte End needed a new hero after such a miserable season and Bent penned the perfect script.

You can follow me at twitter.com/philmcnulty and join me on Facebook.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Game of two strikers. Bent took his chance and Dzeko didnt.
    How much more will City have to spend on that position to get someone who can put those away.
    Santa Cruz Adebayor who?

  • Comment number 2.

    Undoubtedly the best signing for Villa, top goal scorer and injected belief into the team that was starting to doubt it's own ability. Before the Bent signing I predicted a 2-0 victory to City, as soon as he was signed I put him into my fantasy team with the foresight of him scoring on debut, like he has done numerous times in the past, coupled with a 2-1 win to Villa (Can't get everything spot on I suppose) I enjoy their style of play and i see Europa league for villa next season.

    Keep it up Villains, you're too good for the championship.

  • Comment number 3.

    I still dont think he's worth 18 or 24 million.

    Given some lavish praise above, what happens if he now goes on a barron spell?

    Plus, as you keep suggesting on Facebook Phil, Young is off soon and he's the best supplier for him..

    Madness.

  • Comment number 4.

    Whether it is under orders from Mancini or an unlikely lack of self-belief from such a talented group of players, City can present a frustrating spectacle and this was one of those occasions.
    _______________________________________________

    Totally agree with Phil this time. This is a weakness in Mancini's management. Had city started the first half like they started the second, they would have taken Villa out by half time. City lack agression and ruthlessness. They can learn a thing of two from their quiet neighbours.

  • Comment number 5.


    I read that only Drogba and Rooney have scored more than Bent in the last 3 seasons. If that is true and they are worth 30 Mill, then 24 Mill for Bent whilst a bit pricey is not too much over the odds. A 20 goal a season striker is rare commodity.

  • Comment number 6.

    You can almost feel the mess Phil was making when typing this

  • Comment number 7.

    Bent ought to be a regular starter for England now - better than any frontman we've had since Shearer.

    Unfortunately, looks like Lawro's beaten me in predictions this week:

    http://thechinbeardboy.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 8.

    First things first: Bent was worth the £24m price tag. Not because he scored the goal that beat City, but because he shares an almost identical goals per match ratio with Rooney and Drogba and he doesn't need to justify that.

    Apart from that, Villa's buying a no nonsense striker was justified because, besides having had far less opportunities, this time they won. Heskey and Carew have proven to have a lesser killer instinct inside them. They now have a nucleus of players with an attacking flair, youth that is coming up good and a decent defense line - the basis to move upwards. One more near-lethal striker and they would be asking themselves the questions Spurs are asking at the top end of the table.

    City played well, but defensive football doesn't take you far in England. Results wise, perhaps, Mancini would be pleased to see his side winning at home and drawing most matches away - a statistic United have this season, at the moment, rather accidentally, as some matches they should have lost, while in the rest of them they conceded silly equalisers in the dying minutes.

    The question I have for Mancini is this: what do you need glittering strikers for, when you like playing 4-5-1?
    In England, champions tend to play like champions, as premiership history shows. All teams that won the premiership had had an attacking instinct. Conservative football brings conservative results.

    City share the best defensive record with United, but when it comes to goals scored at home, they've scored less than Newcastle and Bolton. At home, they scored only two goals more than Stoke, Fulham, Villa, West Brom. Away, the paradox is they've scored heavily, having the second best away goals scored record, which is a paradox. Paradox not in the sense that they haven't deserved it, but because of their team's philosophy - they've scored heavily away, when they wanted to win away matches.

    Still, nothing has been lost for them and they shouldn't have expected to walk away with three points at a ground where United have drawn (and should have lost) and Chelsea lost. Still, though, with all the array of good footballers they have in their disposal, more is expected from them, really. Of course it takes time for teams to jell together but an attacking desire should be in place already.

  • Comment number 9.

    #1 - Give Dzeko a chance. He's only just signed. Tevez missed a sitter in the first half from a Kolorov corner when all was needed was a touch. I think the ball actually went through his legs. Nut-megged from a corner!! Hehehe.

    Also, Bent has only ever scored 20 goals or more in a season on 2 occasions. Thats out of the last 8 full seasons. Not sure if that makes him a '20-goals-a-season' striker.

    Having said that, still rate the guy. Maybe with the better service he will become a '20-goals-a-season' striker. I guess time will tell.

    And on City, its been said all season, very negative.
    Maybe too negative to win the league.

    They're lucky in the sense that Liverpools problems have happened now at the same time the prem is having one of those 'funny' seasons with Chelsea struggling and Arsenal dropping points against teams they would usually beat. Paving the way for City with all there money to finish in the top 4.

    I mean Utd top, unbeaten! After all those draws! Wow!

  • Comment number 10.

    7. At 08:40am on 23 Jan 2011, the_fantastic_alistair wrote:

    Bent ought to be a regular starter for England now - better than any frontman we've had since Shearer.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Better than Owen, Rooney, Defoe?
    Better than Crouch's goals to apps ratio for England?

    Thats a brave statment to make.

  • Comment number 11.

    #1 - Thing is, Bent hasn't been given the chance in an England shirt. Had he gone to S Africa...

    Premier League goal returns:

    ROONEY = 108 in 269 = 40%
    OWEN = 148 in 311 = 48%
    CROUCH = 60 in 239 = 25%
    HESKEY = 116 in 509 = 23%
    DEFOE = 108 in 311 = 35%
    BENT = 129 in 309 = 42%

    Which means Bent is 2nd best to Owen who is too old now anyway!

  • Comment number 12.

    perlease! even the "Coled" one at my beloved WHU would have scored that goal! ?Is "lucre" Bent worth 24 an obscene 8 digit number, well only time will tell! unless he can pull off a "rare as hens teeth georgie best" and bust through steeled defences like that at my WHU sometime soon my crystal ball say's he will disappear into oblivion quicker than an aussie batsman's test average never to be seen again!
    And remember Mr Bent when your laying on that air bed in your own pool on your own private island sipping cocktails and never having to work again remember what i've written fella!
    jealous! of course we're not!!!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Here's what we should do from here on in to the end of the season.

    Dzeko vs Bent (27mill vs 24mill)
    Number of Goals
    Number of Assists

    Lets see who spent their money wisely and who fritted it away.
    (I know who i'm backing in this arguement - Bent!)

    For all their money I look at Man City's team and except for the one player (Tevez), possibly up to three if you include the Toures, I don't see a Premiership for that team. How much more money do they have and can they at least spend it more wisely?

  • Comment number 14.

    If Bent is not worth every penny of his 24M price tag than Wayne Rooney is not a world class player and doesn't deserve his a$tronomicaŁ w€€kŁy wag€!

    €nd of th€ $tory!


    In connection with the negativity of Mancini's MC I agree with all those who said it might not be enough to win the PL. But the team's real strenght is that this might be very succesful in Europe where teams tend to play slower and more on the counter attack.

  • Comment number 15.

    "And remember Mr Bent when your laying on that air bed in your own pool on your own private island sipping cocktails and never having to work again remember what i've written fella!"

    I suppose nobody wrote something like this about some Simon of some X Factor, who got a £25m contract in his 40+ for the privilege to sit on a chair and say nonsense about (at most) nonsense could-have-talent. Was he worth that money more? Are bankers worthy their multimillion annual bonuses?

    Cognitive psychology perhaps could show that we tend to feel closer to footballers because we like football and we perceive they should be earning close to what we are earning. It ain't like this. Football is the most lucrative entertainment business on planet earth. And players are worth every penny they get. SKY became top multinational out of them. For God's sake, stop that nonsense.

  • Comment number 16.

    #11 Interesting stats.

    I would agree that Owen is finished when it comes to England. Heskey, also.
    That would leave Bent to battle it out with golden boy rooney, super sub crouch and defoe. Throw Carroll in there and its tough.

    At the moment bent hasnt really been given a chance. But, you also have to consider that with the way the game is played these days, certainly at international level with only one upfront, that man will be Rooney.

    If England are chasing a game crouch will get sent on.
    And if England start 4-4-2, it looks like Rooney and Defoe.
    If not Defoe then Carroll.

    But to say hes the best since Shearer?
    That is still open to debate.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 Bent actually plays best as a lone CF - probably why he never fit in at TH, cos thats not our way. If Eng were playing an Italy, a Uruguay or a Ghana and we needed to flood the MF in a 4-5-1, Bent would work perfectly in that role.

  • Comment number 18.

    Bent is a good striker, but can't create chances for others, can't hold up the ball and can't make his own chances. His goal rate is good, but he gives nothing else to the team, unlike drogba/rooney/torres etc. (well, not this season maybe...).
    I suppose he is suited to the premier league. He would be pretty useless in most other top leagues though.

  • Comment number 19.

    Bent is overrated likewise Rooney. English people love to believe you have a World class player, but you haven't. And Phil you are the main culprit. Time to realise 2 goal Rooney is just a Good player

  • Comment number 20.

    18. At 10:00am on 23 Jan 2011, twinklebathat wrote:
    Bent is a good striker, but can't create chances for others, can't hold up the ball and can't make his own chances. His goal rate is good, but he gives nothing else to the team, unlike drogba/rooney/torres etc. (well, not this season maybe...).
    I suppose he is suited to the premier league. He would be pretty useless in most other top leagues though.

    _________________________________________________________________________

    obviously you did not see the game against Man City - ok he only had 27 touches of the ball but he made the play on most if not all of those times - moving the ball drawing the opposition and allowing us to push forward, NOT ONCE did he lose the ball and put us on the back foot - even coming back and helping with defensive duties. OH an only once did he have the ball in the 6/18yrd box - 100% strike rate!!

  • Comment number 21.

    @number 13

    Because Villa will probs see a better return from Bent than City will from Dzeko doesn't mean they have spent their money wisely.

    Bent is a good goalscorer however Villa could have invested £24million in other areas of the squad that needed strengthening. Look at Arsenal for instance, they haven't even come close to spending that amount of money on a single player and their whole squad oozes class. Maybe Houllier could learn from his French compatriot.

    This blog post supports my views...http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/arsene-wenger-a-manager-like-no-other/

  • Comment number 22.

    You can't argue when a centre forward scores a goal, in money terms if he scores 24 goals that's a million pounds a goal. And Chelsea can't buy goals at the moment.
    As an aside, did another team go to Old Trafford yesterday and roll over for their tummies to be tickled?

  • Comment number 23.

    Bent is a good player and i predict he will be the reason why Villa will not be relegated.. but he is not worth 24M. English players especially forwards are over-priced. But at the end of the day, the price of relegation could be far much more that 24M for Villa so maybe its good business.

  • Comment number 24.

    Bent is at best average
    Who are Villa kidding, never worth £24 million
    The only time he was ever good in his career is when he was playing for charlton
    Terrible at the rest of his clubs and worst of all for spurs!!!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    @5 Only Rooney and Drogba scored more than Bent in last 3 seasons?? No way, Torres outscored all three of them.

  • Comment number 26.

    24. At 10:56am on 23 Jan 2011, 18years of dominance158 wrote:
    Bent is at best average
    Who are Villa kidding, never worth £24 million
    The only time he was ever good in his career is when he was playing for charlton
    Terrible at the rest of his clubs and worst of all for spurs!!!!!

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What a load of tosh!! In 2009 when he missed this one chance against Pompey that everybody seems to define his entire career by he finished as Spurs top goalscorer!!!!

    He scored 32 goals in 58 games for Sunderland!!

    And I'm pretty sure Ipswich fans would have something to say about 'Terrible at the rest of his clubs'!

    Everyone's entitled to their opinion but at least say something that has a bit of substance - I'm not claiming he justifies £24 million but some people clearly don't know the value of a goalscorer - only Drogba and Rooney (who have both at some stage over the past 4 seasons been the best strikers in the world) scored more than him in Prem!!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    It's worth remembering that Edin Dzeko is trying to adjust to a new team, league and language. Bent is only trying to adjust to a new team.

    A single poached goal doesn't make a £24 million signing justified. I have a feeling that if Darren's passport said Bosnian while Dzekos said English we would have been looking at 40mil and 11mil, not 24 and 27.

    Don't compare them after a game or two. Or even this season. Compare them on their results in the 2011-2012 season. Unless Bent is firing them in in the fizzy pop league I'd bet good money that Edin comes out on top.

  • Comment number 28.

    #21 don't you mean "how not to run a football club"? Since Wenger started his 'bring in the kids' policy what have Arsenal won?! And if their squad really "oozes class", why is their defence such a shambles?

    http://thechinbeardboy.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 29.

    Nobody's ever claimed that Darren Bent is another Gascoigne, any more than the late much-missed Nat Lofthouse was another Tom Finney. But strikers and goalkeepers are different - everything depends on their final product.
    Last week, Villa were goal difference away from relegation. And, in that position, EVERY goal's worth 24 million. Villa won't stay there now. Bent will score goals wherever he goes, and many of those goals will mean points.

  • Comment number 30.

    "Does Darren Bent justify his £24m price tag? Phil McNulty ponders"

    Did he justify his price tag? Ooh, I don't know. Let's watch him play one game and wildly extrapolate from that.

  • Comment number 31.

    I didn't even bother to read the article Phil. Boring! The answer is no.......stop grasping at straws looking for a headline that isn't there.

  • Comment number 32.

    There are some incredibly deluded posters on here. Just goes to show how short memories/short sighted fans are out there

    #1 - Cliveeta - Not much more, considering Tevez has scored 37 goals in 55 appearances, and Mario Balotelli who so far 6 in 9 apperances and has been unfortunate with injuries

    #13 - The_Butler - I can assume from your comment you are not a City fan. If you think Tevez is the only premiership class player, then you are more deluded than the poster above! We also have David Silva (massively converted by Manchester United and UEFA cup winner), Yaya Toure (do you really need me outline his credentials), Mario Balotelli (Did he win a treble last year with Inter Milan...Yes!).

    Furthermore more the uneducated amongst us fail to realize that Dzeko is new to the Premier League, and had not played for a month in Germany (due their winter break), and is now in a totally new league with new players).

    AS Phil points out Bent only touched the ball 27 times! I would love to hear how much Tevez and Dzeko touched the ball!?

    This game was always going to be difficult, and the early goal killed us.

    But to those obsessed with the negative tag, we had 24 shots on goal yesterday and 13 corners, that didn't happen because we passed the ball across our back four! Yesterday just wasn't our day.

    This comments are typically of those either uneducated and/or led by the media. "oh i heard city are negative on sky, and they've lost 1-0, therefore they must still be negative"

    The proof will be in the pudding.

  • Comment number 33.

    I fully agree with #30 here... He's played one game, this article is at least 30 games ahead of it's time.

    Also @5 ft is right, a quick look at the Prem's website will show that in the three seasons before this one:

    Drogba: 42 goals
    Bent: 42 goals
    Rooney: 50 goals
    Torres: 56 goals

    So, I agree that Bent has an excellent return, but don't forget El Niño!

  • Comment number 34.

    @13 Dzeko is a better player than Bent IMO, he just needs a bit of time to settle in,

    Dzeko goals to game ration in Bundesliga : 0.59
    Bents in the prem: 0.43

    Little bit of a difference and dzeko has 2 years on bent ;)

  • Comment number 35.

    At 10:31am on 23 Jan 2011, PabloPiatti wrote:
    Bent is a good goalscorer however Villa could have invested £24million in other areas of the squad that needed strengthening. Look at Arsenal for instance, they haven't even come close to spending that amount of money on a single player and their whole squad oozes class. Maybe Houllier could learn from his French compatriot.

    Sorry Pablo but thats an unfair comment. Wenger has had several years to buy youngsters into Arsenal and train them up. Houllier has had six months, and his players have not given him much to work with. If you look at the team that played lastnight as well, three were Villa academy players (Clark, Albrighton, Agbonlahor) and there were more on the bench (Baker, Bannan, Herd, Delfouneso) with more in the wings. And at least they are (mostly) local or English players. Houllier doesn't need to realise he needs to adopt Wenger's approach, he needs the time to adopt Wenger's approach. Bent is not a panic buy, it is the acquisition of a player that Villa vitally need. Waiting 6 years for Delfouneso to mature or Gabby to learn how to shoot, will just relegate Villa.

  • Comment number 36.

    I don't get how people doubt Bent. He scores the goals and adds more to the team than Peter Crouch does. I just don't understand why Lerner was so reluctant to back O'Neill with any money at all but for Houllier he would give £18-£24 million it is ludicrous. O'Neill showed he was the perfect man for the Villa job getting 6th place three seasons in a row which is where they would probably be now with O'Neill. Lerner only pays out when he is panicked by the thought of relegation. It is a strange way to run a football club

  • Comment number 37.

    The fact that Bent is joint top goalscorer in the premiership is slightly misleading, and actually points at the dearth of striking talent in the premiership or at the more dynamic role strikers are expected to take in teams.

    Drogba in his first two seasons only scored 10 premier league goals a piece. Not terrible but hardly prolific and I remember for his lack of goals and often wayward first touch quite a few people were criticising him and wanted him out. It was only his manager that new how important he was to the team, with his ability to work the channels and use of strength to hold the ball up, which made the team win but not him shine. It wasn't till his third season he started scoring regularly and even then he's been seen as a temperamental striker who if not handled right goes off the boil.

    Rooney wasn't that prolific a goal scorer until last season, as he, and Teves, who I'm sure is also close to the top, played support roles for Ronaldo, who I'm sure would be top goalscorer if he hadn't left, and their combined work rate from the front line brought huge success (two title and two champion league final appearances).

    Torres has only been here three season and has sporadic injuries which keep him out. Owen has consistent injuries, ditto Van Persie. Defoe is very patchy, how Bent used to be at Charlton; after the Wigan game where he scored 5 he went months without scoring. Bent may not be great but when everyone else is mediocre being good is enough.

    Bent's a better striker than most and to Villa he maybe worth that amount, just like when he went to Tottenham for £16 million, I thought why are they paying that much for a squad/back up player and he quickly moved to Sunderland, who ironically if they had bought him instead of Tottenham it would have made perfect sense, as his goals would have almost certainly steered them away from relegation and then allowed the manager to build a better team, which is what did happen.

  • Comment number 38.

    @lethalwill

    O'Neill wasted a lot of money getting to sixth, and never bought players that could push Villa further up the table. I won't take away the fact he was the key man in getting us up to sixth, but the quality of players he bought, the price, and the fact he would fall out with and refuse to play a lot of his expensive players, caused (in my opinion) Lerner to realise he couldn't carry on funding O'Neill's desire for mediocre players. For instance, Curtis Davies cost £10 million. O'Neill gave him one season then let him waste after coming back from reserves. Sidwell cost £5 million, Harewood £4 million, Warnock £8 million. Thats more than Bent, and you can hardly say those players have lived up to that valuation in any way (apart from Sidwell's super ballboy moment vs Hull). Why would Lerner want to carry on wasting his money on those sorts of players?

  • Comment number 39.

    I think Bent will prove value for money. Its 18 million (rising to 24) for guaranteed goals. Had we bit the bullet and overpaid for Bent 3 seasons ago we probably would have qualified for the Champions League at least once in the last three seasons. Thats the difference Bent can make. This guy could be a stepping stone in the transformation of Villa in my opinion.

  • Comment number 40.

    @NH08

    Interesting you put Warnock on that list? Do you not rate him?
    Its a valid point you make though and one that I regularly point out to friends of mine who sing O'Neill's praises, he did spend a lot of money when he was at Villa and not always particularly successfully - pity that he wouldn't ever accept a Director of Football to work with him as he's clearly a good motivator and tactician (although as you point out he does seem to fall out with a few people) but possibly a little dodgy on the transfer front! I don't think he unearthed any gems.....(Young and Milner were good signings but anybody who'd been watching them previously could see the talent there)

  • Comment number 41.

    I wrote a post on my blog about the value of Darren Bent on the day he signed for Villa, looking at his performance rating (Castrol) and goals ratio.

    Excerpt:
    I’ve compiled some numbers showing the level of performance delivered by the top 20 strikers in the Premiership (+ 2 England strikers outside the top 20: Crouch and Heskey).

    Turning our attention back to Darren Bent we can see a few things:

    * Darren Bent is the 2nd best performing English striker
    * he has the 4th best goals/game ratio in the Premiership
    * he has the 7th highest combined ‘quality score’
    * he is the 6th most expensive (ignoring Dzeko, too recent a signing to be included in stats)

    These headline figures suggest he is fairly priced according to the current market.

    Full post: http://www.footballalchemy.co.uk/news/darren-bent-and-the-value-of-premiership-strikers/

  • Comment number 42.

    O'Neill wasted a lot of money on players (mainly British) who were not going to push Villa into the top. Houllier seems to have picked up from right where O'Neil left.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ 11, why is Heskey even on your list? I bet Vidic will end up scoring more PL goals than he will :D

  • Comment number 44.

    Months back when MO'N was at the club we were talking about losing carew and buying a more consistent goalscorer.
    But this year we were begging for him to stay until villa bought darren bent who will prove to be worth all the money.
    He barely got much of the ball yesterday but when he did , the slick passes and how he makes space ( which most people wouldn't notice)made a big difference. He also has the quality which villa have been lacking up front in the last few years. Someone who is there when most needed. I think this is a great move and he will prove the amount we payed for him like ashley young.

  • Comment number 45.

    That was surely this season's sweetest of Villa victories so far, bit nerve-racking at the death but our defence stood up well to deny the multi-million Man Citeh. You can rant on as much as you like about the price tag of the match winner but compared to the millions they've spent for success, Bent was a bargain.

    Brilliant to deny Barry anything at Villa Park apart from a rapturous send off at his substitution. How can you wonder why these mercenaries, the likes of Barry and Milner included, don't perform collectively as they should Mr. McNulty? Many people have already analysed the real reason why and that's because local talent is not represented in their squad and that's a requisite requirement for passion in any team's performance. That's what gave and will continue to give Aston Villa the edge against this type of opposition, as well as local talent we trust our youth system too.

    Like all other Villains I woke up today feeling extremely satisfied and H,A,P,P,Y, I know I am I'm sure I am. Let's go on and win the F.A. cup now. Up the Villa!

  • Comment number 46.

    is bent worth that much,i think yes when you think of a amis-firing king in manchester,an old looking guy at the bridge and dont forget mr tores.man city has one of the worst maagers in the ipl,give that team to avram grant and they would be 10pts clear.look at the disgracefull mach city played with arsenal you would think they were fighting in the relegation zone.its time for club owners to get rid of mangrs who just want to waste money(mancini) on exp players and mangrs who are there to admire sir alex and Dr wenger(big sam).finally the 3 worste managers in england are italians ancelotti,mancini and cappello who really takes the cake

  • Comment number 47.

    I am tired of English press lavishing praise on OK players. Bent is a good striker and I rate Him but he is not in the same category with Drogba or other top strikers in Europe and Ronney too is not a world class but he is good and ok.

    A definition of world class striker is one who can play in 3 top league in Europe and still do what they know how to do best E.g is Samuel Etoo or perform at highest level. Ronaldo and Tevez won the champions league for MAN UTD not English golden boy even Vidic and Van der sar gave more than Ronney so He is not a world class and England don't have a world class player .

  • Comment number 48.

    Bent was expensive, but if you want to buy a proven player in your league who isn't running out of contract and isn't getting a bit past it, then you need to get your chequebook out. It's just the way it is. Yes he was expensive but I think Bent will turn out to be a great buy for Villa.

    It's so stupid to hear people talking about certain strikers only scoring tap-ins. If it's so easy then why don't midfielders score more tap-ins, or why don't all strikers get them? Because some are just gifted at knowing where the ball will drop, or how to make space where there was none and pick up the easy pass. Linekar did this, van Nistlerooy did it, and Bent does it too. They don't always show the sublime bits of skill and tricks like Modric, Ronaldo or Fabregas that give the fans tingles, but put them in a team with anyone who can spot movement and play a half decent ball and they will always score goals.

    As for Dzeko, undoubtedly talented, may well be fantastic, but if he turns out to be one of those players who just never quite adapts to English football then it's money wasted. With Darren Bent you get experience and a proven record goals and if he gets Villa into Europe, or even just ensures Premiership survival then he's worth every penny.

  • Comment number 49.

    @47 - so unless somebody plays in more than one league then they can't be considered world class?

  • Comment number 50.

    Some of these statistics that get put about are just pointless but the following I guess is relevant from 2007-08 season to present

    Torres= 65 league goals in 101 apps, 64.4%
    Tevez= 56 league goals in 128 apps, 43.8%
    Berbatov= 53 league goals in 120 apps, 44.0%
    Rooney= 52 league goals in 102 apps, 51%
    BENT= 51 league goals in 119 apps, 42.9%
    Drogba= 50 league goals in 94 apps, 53%
    Anelka= 45 league goals in 122 apps, 36.9%
    Defoe= 40 league goals in 98 apps, 40.8%

    Basically, Bent has the 5th best goals scored and the 6th best percentage for chances with players with over 90 appearances. Looking at the rest of that list, the 4 players above him would surely attract fees of 18m plus with the possible exception of Berbatov as a result of his age counting against him.
    Considering his age I think that if it were a player coming from another country with a similar record then there would be less comment, I wish him well and am sure we could find a spot for him at Aberdeen.

    Sorry if I missed anyone obvious

  • Comment number 51.

    By seasons end If hes scored 12 goals, which I'm sure they would put as a realistic target; thats £2m each (obvious yes I know) - and that certainly does say something about modern football.

    Its a strange one, if they were sitting in 5th/6th and mounting a push for Europe, I could understand a marquee signing, but when they are midtable, and no real chance of troubling the european spots, it is a little strange to fork out so much on one player, who could be virtually ineffective without the right service.

    But if your Randy Lerner, and your thinking about moving away from the relegation zone, it is I suppose understandable.

  • Comment number 52.

    Phil,

    "for all the nit-picking about technique and talent"

    I think that part of the sentence in your blog encapsulates what is wrong with English football! To refer to the discussion about techenique and talent as 'nit-picking' is quite strange. We, in England, are lightyears away from mainland Europe when it comes to technique and talent and therefore have not won anything for half a century and will not win anything for another half century!

    As for Bent, I think he's an excellent signing for Villa though. I don't think he really justifies the price tag, but he should keep them from relegation. That said, I don't think he's England national team material for the reasons stated above.

    We need to be concentrating more on technique and talent if we are to win anything. I once read a post from somebody about that youngster from Tranmere who he thought was really good but also thought he was a bit small and needed to add some weight and muscle! NO! TECHNIQUE!

    Anyway, I'm drifting way off topic, sorry!

    Good luck Villa fans! I reckon you'll be climbing the table next season!

  • Comment number 53.

    Didn't we have this blog last week? So after ONE game we are revisiting the same question! Talk about short terminism in football!

  • Comment number 54.

    Bent was excellent. Not only did he take his chance brilliantly, his movement off the ball was fantastic and he also held the ball up when required. It was refreshing to see a striker with some decent movement at Villa Park after watching Heskey and Carew lumber around aimlessly. I do worry for Agbonlahor though. He is a great talent in my opinion and being stuck out on the left wing does nothing for the development of his game. Still, as long as we are winning I'm not too fussed.

    Great signing. Thank you Randy!

    http://www.inofftheghost.com

  • Comment number 55.

    Overall, as a member of a future 'Villa squad' focused on trying to break-into the top 4 of the premiership, the answer would be that Darren Bent is not worth £24M.
    However over the short term, certainly until the end of the season, Bent's ability to finish off Villa 'play-making' with goals that ultimately would keep the club in the premiership, then he would be worth double that!
    Darren Bent could turn out to be the 'buy of the season' for Gerard Houllier, out-doing Harry Redknapp's purchase of Van Der Vaart

  • Comment number 56.

    34. At 12:16pm on 23 Jan 2011, ElliotJHP wrote:

    @13 Dzeko is a better player than Bent IMO, he just needs a bit of time to settle in,

    Dzeko goals to game ration in Bundesliga : 0.59
    Bents in the prem: 0.43

    Little bit of a difference and dzeko has 2 years on bent ;)
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    yap, but if you calculate with the official UEFA koefficient between the PL and the Bundesliga based on the strenght of the championship then Dzeko's ratio is no more than 0.4 or rather 0.3 (on PL level)

    don't compare apple to onion please unless you use the right measurement!

  • Comment number 57.

    I know the blog is about Bent v Dzeko, but how about a quick word for Dunne and Collins in cancelling out Dzeko and Tevez? In the 2nd half when City put real pressure on Villa, they played magnificently leaving Friedel with hardly a save to make. OK all the deflections and blocks fell Villa's way, but sometimes you earn your luck. How could Houllier have dropped Dunne earlier in the season?
    The other point from the game was the very attacking midfield/wings that Villa played - Agbonlahor, Downing, Young, Albrighton with only Petrov with defensive priorities - more pressure on the back 4, great performance Dunne & Collins!

  • Comment number 58.

    I read that only Drogba and Rooney have scored more than Bent in the last 3 seasons. If that is true and they are worth 30 Mill, then 24 Mill for Bent whilst a bit pricey is not too much over the odds. A 20 goal a season striker is rare commodity.
    --------------------
    There is no such thing.

    The number of goals a striker gets is so effectd by players around them that it's a pretty useless stat on it's own.

    Bent has been the ONLY real striker at Sunderland during his time there, the entire team was set up around getting him the ball in dangerous situations. Any good striker would get a decent number of goals in that situation. This season when Sunderland have instead played him alongside Gyan or Welbeck (or both) and is no longer the cole focal point he has looked dissapointing, just like he did at Spurs in the same situation.

    For me he still lacks that ability for the finish that would put him in that category of player, he all too often misses the target or fires straight at the keeper, the ones he gets right are great, he gets it wrong too fotne though. Compare him to players like Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Gary Linekar, Drogba, Rooney, they all manage to find some way to properly work the keeper even from unpromising situations, rarely do you see them put it straight at him.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    I just don't understand why Lerner was so reluctant to back O'Neill with any money at all but for Houllier he would give £18-£24 million it is ludicrous.
    -----------------
    It's called appraising the situation. Lerner doesn't want to spend that money and probably wouldn't have doen so were Villa safety in the top 10. However with relegation a possibility he is throwing money at the problem. Had O'Neill still been boss now I expect the money would have been spent as well.

  • Comment number 61.

    58. At 2:33pm on 23 Jan 2011, hackerjack wrote:

    I read that only Drogba and Rooney have scored more than Bent in the last 3 seasons. If that is true and they are worth 30 Mill, then 24 Mill for Bent whilst a bit pricey is not too much over the odds. A 20 goal a season striker is rare commodity.
    --------------------
    There is no such thing.

    The number of goals a striker gets is so effectd by players around them that it's a pretty useless stat on it's own.

    Bent has been the ONLY real striker at Sunderland during his time there, the entire team was set up around getting him the ball in dangerous situations. Any good striker would get a decent number of goals in that situation. This season when Sunderland have instead played him alongside Gyan or Welbeck (or both) and is no longer the cole focal point he has looked dissapointing, just like he did at Spurs in the same situation.

    For me he still lacks that ability for the finish that would put him in that category of player, he all too often misses the target or fires straight at the keeper, the ones he gets right are great, he gets it wrong too fotne though. Compare him to players like Ian Wright, Les Ferdinand, Gary Linekar, Drogba, Rooney, they all manage to find some way to properly work the keeper even from unpromising situations, rarely do you see them put it straight at him.

    --------------------------------------------------
    no mate.

    considering what support line Rooney, Torres, Drogba, etc... had in the previous couple of years (when they were able to score more than 20 leagu goals/season!!) I am sure Charlton's, (the earlier) Tottenham's and Sunderland's was worse BY FAR.

    so given these circumstances Bent is a player from the same league whether you like it or not.

    or we can start compare the Ian Wright, Bergkamp pair and the support line to that of Bent, someone at Charlton/Tottenham/Sunderland...

  • Comment number 62.

    #54 your website is a crazy idea but original & fantastic! ;)

    #55 remember Bent cost 3 TIMES as much as VDV, so it may be a quality signing but getting Rafa for 8 mill is possibly the transfer of the century!

    http://thechinbeardboy.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 63.


    Its amazing how many people who obviously know so little about the Villa are suddenly taking an interest. McNulty knows nothing about Villa and starting a pointless comparison of Bent and Dzeko is infantile at best. No-one other than Randy Lerner and MON knows why they fell out. Neither has commented. Nevertheless, to suggest Lerner did back MON with money (£100m+ on transfers in 3 years)is patently nonsense. Lerner is not panic buying. Houllier did not arrive until the summer transfer window closed and this is his first opportunity to support his new manager in the transfer market. No different to the support he gave MON to my mind. Villa have loads of talented youngsters in our ranks (Villa reserves beat Arsenal reserves 10-1 last week displacing them at the top of that league)and Houllier has been giving them opportunities but anyone who has taken more than a passing interest in our season to date could see that we desparately needed a goalscorer. Comparisons are pointless but Bent is what Villa need and £18m is the going rate in the crazy world of premiership football. The football media doesn't like the Villa and frankly if their interest generates the sort of ill-formed rubbish I've read over the past few days since Bent signed then most Villa fans don't care. Witness the toss spouted by Lawrenson, Redknapp etc and now McNulty.

  • Comment number 64.

    It's a little bit pointless comparing Bent with Dzeko as Villa could have afforded the transfer fee but probably not his 100k per week wages.

    Bent scores goals and goalscorers cost money. End of.

  • Comment number 65.

    I can't believe how opinions change after one goal. Before yesterday, Bent was seen as a money-hungry, under-performing, overrated buy who wouldn't live up to expectations. Now, after one game where, let's be honest, my grandmother could have scored that goal, he's the Messiah that is going to fire up the "new Houllier regime".

    C'mon, Phil. This isn't the News of The World is it ?

  • Comment number 66.

    It's a moot point really since Bent was the best available striker. Sure Rooney (how many goals has he scored this season?), Drogba and Torres might be better but do you think any of them would have gone to Villa Park given our position in the league? Yesterday (and for most of the season) we created plenty of chances but being unable to convert cost us points. With any luck we'll overcome that with Bent although it's clearly too soon to pass judgement.

    That being said, a good win against Man City is still only three points - same as we got for beating West Ham and Wolves earlier in the season. Three points away from Wigan will set us up nicely for next week against Blackburn (in the cup) and then Man Utd (with unusual support from the man in black).

    Looking at the League it's actually very tight down the bottom, hopefully we'll improve our goal difference at Wigan which, if results go our way, will put us closer to mid table!

    PS: Does anyone know how Small Heath got on yesterday?

  • Comment number 67.

    The frustration is that City DO start like a train some weeks, and proceed to win. Other weeks they start slowly and look rubbish - sometime winning sometimes not.

    Against Blackpool it was the latter - coming through to win comfortably. Against Villa it was like a couple of months ago - 4 or 5 times as many attempts on goal, but because the opposition had already scored with one of their 2 or 3 efforts they couldn't get past the bus that had then been parked. All credit to the opposition, but City need to start better every week.

    As to scoring goals - Bent ain't the answer for anyone. Who did he win anything for? Scoring for teams down the league is, ironically, easier than scoring for those at the top.

  • Comment number 68.

    The money spent in football is ridiculous - is Bent worth £24 million - of course not, ne plays football for living. Give a scientist with the cure for cancer for that money.

    Even within football - if Villa can't spend any more because of shelling out this much then you might question it, but they've spent £5/6 million on Makoun, are reportedly bidding around the same for Charlie Adam and there doesn't seem to be a finance problem. Therefore any player is worth whatever a club will play.

    In comparison with Dzeko, he may have scored a tap-in (exactly what Villa bought him for!) but Dzeko looked a class above. His touch and overall technique was excellent. He did miss a good chance from a header, but everyone knows that Bent has done that! Dzeko will be one of the best strikers in the league - he looks like a fitter, more skilful version of Heskey - someone who will work hard, be a target man who can hold the ball up, has strength and power and can probably finish a lot better (judging by his goalscoring record in Germany).

    Bent will help Villa move up the table, and is a very clever signing by Houllier for many reasons (see http://footballislifetherestisjustdetails.blogspot.com/). To keep Villa in the Prem is easily worth £24 million, so if Villa can afford it, he's worth it.

  • Comment number 69.

    If Bent is the best target man we have had since Shearer then we really are doomed!

  • Comment number 70.

    @49 You dont need to play in more than 1 league to be a good player but at-least it will help you to prove to the world that you are a world class.

    Before you are ranked world class you need to win big game on your own and big tournament as well which non English player have doe

  • Comment number 71.

    Two articles on the same move in a couple of days, as if nothing else was going on? Bent is not as good a footballer as any other striker on the field. Is he worth his money? No! Yes he took his chance, that doesn't make him worth 18m. Villa's defence also had a say in game, as did City's profligacy, neither of which Bent can take credit for.. I don't think Bent will be playing in Europe next year, but Sunderland will

  • Comment number 72.

    @65 I couldnt agree with you more.He cannot turn into the best finisher overnight!!Which part did he play again after or even before the goal?? Harry's grandmother could have scored that goal and even you Phil(your granny)

  • Comment number 73.

    I still think that Bent at £24m is vastly overpriced, but i suppose taken in the round, with the possibility of relegation and the loss of income from such an event, it might be considered a worthwhile punt.

    I have noticed some City fans defending Dzeko saying it is only his first game, and that is indeed a fair point, he can't be expected to come in and instantly hit the ground running with a new team. However it still doesnt detract from the point that if Tevez doesn't fire, then City struggle to win.

  • Comment number 74.

    can everybody please stop raving about this crap striker?? He is just a better Carlton Cole ie lump of wood. £24mill? Aston Villa have put Chelsea and City to shame there.

  • Comment number 75.

    Also, stop criticising Dzeko. How long has he spent here at City?? Even though Im a Utd fan, I think Dzeko might prove to be a really masterstroke of a signing for City.

  • Comment number 76.

    Darren Bent will definitely fire in the goals for Villa and prove to be the difference between Villa staying in the league or in the championship.

    A Goal on debut what better way could he have embarked on his new venture at Villa

  • Comment number 77.

    "#1 - Give Dzeko a chance. He's only just signed"
    and Bent hadn't?

  • Comment number 78.

    #74 It was a statement of intent by Villa - basically telling all and sundry "We're still a big club you know!"

    http://thechinbeardboy.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 79.

    If Bent fires Villa to Premiership safety then he will be worth the money spent. Take a look at this article.

    http://expertscolumn.com/content/how-footballer-worth-money

  • Comment number 80.

    Typical really Phil

    You focus you're entire article around Bent, and not Hart, during the live commentary your comment about "bent, houlier and Cappello all have smiles on their faces" Really? Bent and Houlier maybe, but Cappello? After seeing Englands "No 1" do that? I doubt it.

    Hart is supposed to be Englands number 1, yet you concentrate your entire article on a fringe player, a man, as you say, did nothing except for score one goal given him on a plate.

    This is why he doesn't start in the England team, because come an international tournement Top Keepers don't do that! Yeah sometimes you need a poacher but the fact is this is much worse for England than it is good. We have plenty of PL league level strikers who can score.

    What we don't have is a top notch keeper, and with the run Hart is on conceeding wise it's a debate likely to come to the fore soon, and a debate about which you seemingly have nothing to say.

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 77

    Bent has only just signed in a NEW league. Whereas Bent has been playing in PL since I dont know how long. You should have started following football earlier perhaps, to get better understanding.

  • Comment number 82.

    @78

    lolzzz.. pretty expensive statement of intent

  • Comment number 83.

    Dzeko, sorry my typo

  • Comment number 84.

    @80

    This is a blog about Villa and Bent not Man City and Hart. I was listening to Wolves v Liverpool (I think it was) on 5 live and they strongly implied that Wolves were only there to make up the numbers.

    Point is if you want a Man City blog either create one or look for a new one

  • Comment number 85.

    @84

    I would expect the BBC's sports correspondant who attended the match to blog about the pertinant issues from said match, not simply focus on one issue. This blog did not need to be about Villa and Bent, it could have been about Bent and Hart, about how bent's star is rising and many see hart's as falling.

    It's amusing how every time city win and Phil Blogs he can't say enough about them, yet blogging after they loose and he can't find anything to say!

    There are all sorts of things besides hart that could be discussed, are City dropping too many points? Does the "expert" think they can win the league? Is Mancini doing any better as manager than Hughes?

    To focus on one moment of poaching in an entire and entirely drab game for me shows a lack of desire to discuss the bigger issues, some of which are alluded too in the final paragraphs but many of which are not.

  • Comment number 86.

    City lost because their attacking capabilities were thwarted by Mancini's second-half tactics. Playing AJ on the right wing, Dzeko on the left and tevez in the centre made no sense to anyone. Surely AJ on the left to get crosses in to Dzeko in the centre would make more sense?

  • Comment number 87.

    "Bent is overrated likewise Rooney. English people love to believe you have a World class player, but you haven't. And Phil you are the main culprit. Time to realise 2 goal Rooney is just a Good player"


    How can Rooney not be world class when he is not just playing for a big nation in England and a big club in Manchester United, the biggest club in the world BUT he shines there more often than not.

    Even yesterday when he didn't score he created two goals and was running amok. It does make me laugh how people seem to think "world class" is like the top 3 runners of the European player of the year award.

    After what Rooney did last season in the Premier league and Champions league, how can he not be world class? So he's had some off the field trouble and has not played, gives people who love too, the perfect chance to stick the boot into him as a player but remember, it was not long ago that people were saying Man United are a 1 man team and were not have been up there without Rooney, just like they did about Ronaldo and now funilly enough, seem to be starting to say about Berbatov.

    When a player does really well at United he carries the team, 1 man etc, but when he has a bad spell, injured or does not play the season he suddenly becomes poor.

    Oh and yes English/British players are overhyed in England or got excited about but that's because its our country. The same thing happens in Spain, Italy, France etc with their talents. New Zidane, new Ronaldinho, new this, new that etc. Many of who'm don't make it. Its like its a crime to get excited about young players do well in this country.

    But hey, what do we know, apparently Aguero is worth £40m and one of the best players around, world class because he gets 10 goals a season. Its laughable. The foreign players are no longer NOT getting overhyped and overpriced, those days when its just the English ones commanding big money or talk have gone, long gone.

  • Comment number 88.

    I still find Darren Bent a bit of an enigma. Over quite a time now he has consistently scored well each season and been in the highest rankings in a number.If being in the right place at the right time is a knack, he has certainly got it. And I have sometimes wondered if there will be a season when that circumstance does not favour him,and goals might desert him, but up to now that hasn't happened.
    Because, as others have said, his style of play does not unlock doors,and asking him to produce something different might not work for him or a club.

  • Comment number 89.

    "Bent made contact with the ball a mere 27 times in 90 minutes".

    Phil,

    You forgot to mention the number of touches £27m Dzeko; £32m Tevez; £12m Barry; £20m Santa-Cruz; £24m Adebayor and very sadly £26m Milner made in the match. If you are going to quote stats try doing some forensic journalism rather than blag stats from MOTD.

    That said, still very early days with Villa and there is still a lot of work to be done. That said, we have needed a striker who has the ratio of number of touches to goals like Bent for a long time.

  • Comment number 90.

    Its no surprise Bent scored on his debut for Villa yesterday
    Last night on MOTD, Gary showed that he has now scored the same amount of goals (82) as Rooney and Drogba over the last few seasons. He is a goalscorer and that's why Villa paid a high price to sign him and will definitely help Villa avoid relegation this season.

  • Comment number 91.

    I make that a touch every 3 mins -- how would you rate that for a striker?

    http://thechinbeardboy.blogspot.com

  • Comment number 92.

    I apologise that I haven't read every one of the previous 91 comments.

    Surely Bent proved exactly why Villa have bought him - the goal he scored was a goal that I don't think Villa would have scored before buying Bent. Agbonlahor and Young are fantastic attacking players, but I see them as supporting attackers, and Bent thrives best as the main striker.

    He didn't unfortunately work out at Spurs but that wasn't because he was a bad striker, but more because he didn't fit within the system of 2 strikers that Spurs played at the time. The formation that Villa played on Saturday will get the best out of Bent. If Makoun is a success, then their first choice midfield and attack looks very promising. Especially considering how impressed with their youngsters (Bannan, Clark and especially Albrighton).

    Good luck to the Villa as they have the potential to have a successful 2nd half of the season and with their potential attacking prowess, then that is to be applauded.

  • Comment number 93.

    @70 Sorry mate, and as much as it pains me to say it as a Leeds fan! How is Rooney not world class? How many goals did he score for Man Utd in the season they won the Champions League? How many did he score last season? And how many has he scored the last few seasons? 82 in case you didn't know, its been shouted round a fair bit the past few days! Just because he hasn't won the World Cup single handedly for England doesn't mean he isn't world class (just means the rest of the team are utter tripe) yes he had a bad world cup but that doesn't mean he isn't world class!!

    Last time you'll hear me sticking up for a Man Utd player but bit of a nonsensical comment if you ask me...

  • Comment number 94.

    Phil you refer to the acrimony and ill feeling regarding the Darren Bent transfer, well from what I've read and heard this ain't from any Sunderland fans. They seem to have wished the lad well and thanked him for his contribution, Steve Bruce is feigning indignation but he could have said no to the 24 million reasons for selling if he was so against it.

    Brucie should have shown a little bit of the class of his teams supporters.

  • Comment number 95.

    Post 89


    Well said!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 96.

    Intresting to read about some of the stats. IMO i think that Bent is a decent buy in the current climate.
    Out of all the stats flying about, i have not seen details refering to Berbatov? Goals to Games? Was he worth the heavy price tag? Long term how will Bent measure against him?

  • Comment number 97.

    It's only been 1 match people!! We can tell at the end of the season if it was a good signing or not.

    For me he is overrated and a relatively poor finisher. A couple of good seasons don't guarantee a couple of good future seasons.

  • Comment number 98.

    Don't understand Mancini, though as I'm no City fan, was please to see Villa win.

    Tevez has been brilliant for City all season. He started this game on the right wing. Bet Villa were delighted.

    The problem with Cruz, Adebayor, etc. is that City are better when they don't play because Tevez then plays up front in the middle. After 45 minutes Mancini realised Dzeko was in the same bracket as Adebator, Cruz, etc - basically get out of the way so Tervez can play centrally. £27m to play right wing, for a player without speed or guile? It will never work.

    Surely this is buying the most expensive players, but not building a coherent team. Can see Dzeko going the same way as all the others, or playing the odd half here and there.

    He'll score goals (he is good), will batter weaker teams, but when my team play City, I'd rather they played City with Dzeko up front and Tevez on the wing, then with Tevez up front and Dzeko on the bench.

    As I said, don't understand what Mancini is doing - or is he just buying all the sweets in the shop because he can?

  • Comment number 99.

    What was wrong with the formations yesterday?

    Tevez left wing? Silva right wing?

    Downing Center midfield?

    Madness!

  • Comment number 100.

    Hart

    Boateng Kompany K. Toure Kolarov

    De Jong

    Silva Y. Toure Milner


    Dzeko Tevez


    Subs : A.Johnson, Barry, Balotelli, Given, Zabaleta, Adebayor, Richards

 

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