Stories that Darren Bent had put in a transfer request in the summer but was persuaded to stay would explain the contrast in his performances this season compared to last. Pete Sixsmith speculates on some other reasons, and like Jeremy Robson (below) takes the long view.
Well, that has been an interesting 24/36 hours hasn’t it? Almost defeat to the Mags, imbeciles running on the pitch and then a transfer request from Darren Bent. As the Chinese say, “May you live in interesting times”.
Except I would rather not, or at least not if they are as negative as these “interesting times” are. I don’t want to dwell on yesterday’s game- enough said about it and I am getting a bit worried about myself, when Newcastle fans compliment me on my fairness. I must be getting old. What next? A pat on the back for Nick Clegg? An acceptance that Bernard Manning was “quite funny”?
The idiot who ran on the pitch, one Ross Miller, clearly has the brain cells discarded by a semi educated aardvark. Whatever the reasons for celebrating, it does not extend to pushing over an opposition player. The youth should be thoroughly ashamed of himself and turning up to apologise to Harper and then appearing on 5Live should not prevent him from being barred from the Stadium and the possibilities of a custodial sentence.
This is the second time we have done this in Derby games and there were unsavoury scenes at that awful England v Turkey game a few years ago. It is likely that the FA, in between fining players for Tweeting, will take a very dim view of this. Not good.
Then we have the Darren Bent story. Initial reactions were shock and surprise, but the more I think about it and the more I hear of the background the less surprised I am.
The story is that his head was turned in August by a foreign club, (Germany? Spain?) which may well explain his relatively lethargic performances this season. His body language has not looked comfortable and his reaction to Danny Welbeck’s goal against Blackburn now looks a real give away. He set the goal up and then failed to involve himself in the team celebrations.
Apparently the transfer request went in on Friday. I suspect that had Welbeck or Campbell (or even Billy Whitehurst) been available, he would not have played.
So,why? Kevin Phillips on 5Live put it down to money and the opportunity for Bent to make even more money. That seems reasonable but is there more to it?
Is it because he feels uncomfortable in a basically mono-cultural environment? Birmingham has a much more culturally diverse population and he may feel more at home there.
Is it because he has yet to find his perfect striking partner? He never looked settled with Kenwyne, so off he went to Stoke. He has not gelled with Gyan, so maybe he got the vibes that the Ghanaian was the number one boy up front. Who knows?
His timing is disappointing with a transfer request handed in before the most important game of the season and then made public the day after a bitterly disappointing day for all Sunderland fans. He has definitely gone from hero to zero in the eyes of many.
Will we miss him? To be brutal, on this years form, not a great deal. He’s a footballer and the vast majority of them come to a club, stay for a couple of years and then move on. A few stay to become legends – Hurley, Ball, Bennett, Quinn – but it is an ephemeral job and you take from them what you can. We took a bagful of goals and then make a decent profit when he moves on.
The story on 5Live was that Robbie Keane will be in as soon as Bent goes. He’s a player who has been linked with Sunderland a few times (and with most other Premier League clubs as well) and he could prove a better link up with Gyan than Bent has. Who knows?
This is a very difficult time for Sunderland fans. The fear is that we will undergo a slide like last year and all the good work done in the first half of the season will be undone. Management, players and fans need to stick together for the next few weeks. A positive response at Blackpool from all is required now.