Voters at the club website put him streets ahead of anyone else in the squad. He had already been chosen by SAFC Supporters’ Clubs as the player of the season.
Salut! Sunderland is delighted for Darren.
The question put to us this week by the independent Manchester United site Republik of Mancunia was: “Who has been your best player this season?”
Simply no contest. Without Darren Bent’s goals we’d be in trouble. No opponents, however grand, can rely on him not to score and to say, as some do, that he has no game beyond scoring goals is to overlook the function of the striker.
We are also deeply chuffed to see Craig Gordon finish second. He has had so many detractors since coming to the Stadium of Light, burdened by a £9m price tag that he did not create (other than by being very good at his job), that the honour must give him immense pride. His performances this season, and especially since his return from injury, fully merit the supporters’ acclaim.
Lorik Cana came third and it would be terrific to see him return, for the last two games, to the sort of form we valued so highly in the earlier part of the season and which must have swayed the minds of voters.
Jordan Henderson’s Young Player of the Year award was probably as obvious a choice as Darren Bent’s. His progress this season has been astonishing: how often have we seen a local lad progress through the youth system and so quickly be talked about as a fabulous Premier League prospect? He, too, was supporters’ clubs’ choice.
Two fans also won something in the poll: Jay Bulmer and Peter Hindes were selected at random to make the presentations on the pitch before Sunday’s game against Manchester United.
The awards in quotes – with due credit to the official site:
“What an honour. It’s a fantastic prize and to be picked by the fans is the icing on the cake. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my first season here and it just keeps getting better and better … Hopefully I can get more goals before the season’s out. Moving to Sunderland has been great for me and I’m enjoying my football. Once again, I have to say thanks to the Sunderland fans and everyone at the club.”
“I’m over the moon – to be voted for by the fans is a great honour … I’ve got so much to thank the gaffer for because he is the one who gave me my chance in the first team. The players have helped me out as well, as has Blacky [Eric Black] and the staff – they’ve all been brilliant all season.”
* T-shirt image reproduced with thanks to A Love Supreme