Darren Bent’s £18/24m transfer, if nothing else, has polarized opinion.
The football journos have had just a little bit of ammo upon which to instigate this debate. From Bruce’s public dissatisfaction, Bent’s twitter bullshit, and Quinn’s face-saving statement, to Redknapp’s dragged-up rant and now, Sunderland fan’s death-threats, Bent’s transfer has certainly stirred up an otherwise dull January window. Up until now, there’s only been two sides. Those dragging up his goal-poachery style-of-play, and those championing his unquestionable goals/games ratio. I’ll entertain both, but settle with neither. If there’s one single characteristics that Darren Bent has been blessed with, it’s his beard.
On the flip side, Aston Villa have paid serious money. Serious money that seems to have appeared from absolutely nowhere. Martin O’Neill, unquestionably a manager of greater talent than Gerard Houllier, was promised nothing. Houllier, on the other hand, was handed a generous £18 million to land a predatory forward Villa (with lumbering Heskey, misfiring Agbonlahor, unproven Delfounso and ineffective Carew) have desperately needed.
Yet, Bent’s detractors have rountinely argued he is nothing but a goalpoacher and a penalty-taker. The latter for which he seems secretly desperate to stoke. His all-round game, team contribution, and level of technical ability have all been questioned, seemingly, by those who know nothing of his genuine worth of PUTTING THE BALL IN THE NET. Whether this has been done from 12 yards, 6 yards or 30 yards is wholly beside the point. Birmingham City fans like myself would dream of a signing. Bent’s failure to prove himself as a viable option for Capello notwithstanding, he is a valuable asset for which his price-tag reflects.
Despite the overwhelming evidence, I refuse to take sides. Bent has only ever really stirred up true debate when he heads over to twitter. With Babel’s twitter criticism, or what I like to call ‘twatrant’ last week, he seems to have a serious competitor for twat-ranter of the year. His choice words for Spurs chairman Daniel Levy (‘Do I wanna go Hull City? NO. Do I wanna go Stoke? NO. Do I wanna go Sunderland? YES.’) and his protracted move away from White Hart Lane in the summer of 09 were headline-grabbing. He seems to inject a little excitement into a boring social networking site that has other footballers – namely Palace midfielder Neil Danns – boring us with updates about going shopping in Bromley in truly Alan Partridge-style ways.
Bent seems to have that certain quality that defines the modern footballer. He scores goals, commands eye-wateringly large transfer fees, undoubtely secures a massive wage packet, talks shit, divides opinion and….has a beard? In another world, Bent would’ve bleached his hair, fused his bullshit agent to his right arm, and travelled round Europe getting into trouble. Abel Xavier and Djibril Cisse know what it’s like.
Bent has only secured his place in footballing folklore for his beard. His twitter musings are but a sideshow, when his pogonotrophic sentiments are expressed so boldly game after game. Bent has a lot to live up to. Not to justify his £18 million transfer fee, and not even to keep up his impeccable scoring record, but to continue growing a beard at a club with strong history. With Mellberg and Cuellar both adorning these pages, Bent has much more at stake.