Stephen Goldsmith writes: I can’t believe I’m about to venture into Darren Bent territory once more. Well actually, I can. He simply doesn’t make it easy for us Sunderland fans not to. There are two developments directly involving Sunderland to discuss on Salut! Reflections this week, with Darren Bent being another. Let’s get to it…
Fletcher back in Scotland squad
The stand-off between Steven Fletcher and Craig Levein has drawn to a close with Sunderland’s in-form striker being called out of the international wilderness. The immediate worry is that he is exposed to potential injuries now, what with the extra training and matches for a stuttering Scotland side. I would be tempted to view the positive aspects that may arise from the situation, however. Safe in the knowledge – rightly or wrongly – that he stood his ground in the whole saga, if he was to find the net for his country, then he’s going to come back brimming with even more confidence and self-belief. That can’t be a bad thing, can it?
I have to say that Craig Levein’s stance throughout has been quite laughable. He said as recently as May that the door was permanently shut on Fletcher, and he did so with this intended authoritative persona that reeked only of unjustified arrogance. I’m afraid I don’t buy all of this “being the bigger man” and thinking about the “greater good” PR nonsense he’s currently spouting out. His head is firmly on the chopping block after an indifferent start to the qualification campaign and he sees this as being his pardon. Fair play to him for dressing it up as he is but I’m not sure that the Scottish public will have refunded their tickets for the viewing gallery of Levein’s public execution just quite yet.
In hindsight, this may prove to be a genuine – and ingenious – piece of man management; Peter Reid could have maybe benefited from similar strategies. But had Scotland won both of their games so far then Fletcher would have been asked to jump through hoops for Levein as he sat on his throne airing off his pompous aroma. To brush it off in the manner he is, and to imply that this outcome would have been reached no matter what,is both insulting and patronising – even if somewhat necessary for his reputation.
A future for Bramble?
I’m pretty sure more eyebrows than my own were raised last week when Martin O’Neill started waxing lyrical about Titus Bramble’s capabilities as a footballer. Deciding to bring the late Sir Bobby Robson’s name to the forefront of his musings was also more than interesting. Using the great man’s name as a point of reference, he explained that opinions of Titus were once at mountainous levels. This could be viewed as some sort of strategy to add weight to his own reasoning as to why the troublesome defender should be currently in the side.
But, if we consider that the only real alternative to play alongside John O’Shea at present is the strikingly average Matt Kilgallon, justification doesn’t seem to be particularly necessary in this instant. Indeed, I haven’t come across great levels of vocal exasperation from those who judge Kilgallon to be of greater talent than Bramble. It certainly isn’t a decision of highly controversial proportions.
When I looked at O’Neill’s public criticism of Stephane Sessegnon a couple weeks back, site regular Phil Johnson suggested that it should be viewed in the light of it being a motivational tool. That got me thinking that this is probably a very similar scenario. It is an old and well known footballing philosophy that some players need an arm round their shoulder, while others need the proverbial kick up the backside. It is worth noting that Bramble’s ill-fated spell at Newcastle was sandwiched between successful Premier League spells at Ipswich and Wigan – both places where he was hugely popular. Maybe feeling valued will bring the best out of him. He’s had a mixed time of it back in the goldfish bowl that is North East football, and these words from O’Neill are surely a last attempt to motivate the player for what could be his last shot in the top flight.
I have to say that apart from his instant hand in Suarez’s equalizer the other week, he’s looked quite assured. Last season, his lack of fitness resulted in the inability to get tight to players turning in and around the penalty area. Tomorrow, and Man City’s playmakers, will be the ultimate test for him in that area of course, but credit where it’s due, I think he had a better game than O’Shea last Saturday.
Darren Bent is unhappy….again!!
Poor Darren Bent is throwing his toys out of the pram again. A few months after complaining that Aston Villa had misled him into where they were going as a club, he’s now complaining because they dared to confine him to the bench at the weekend. This sulking isn’t new from Darren, as we know. During his productive spell here, it became obvious that goals needed to be shared more evenly across the team. Steve Bruce then had the audacity to go and sign Asamoah Gyan in an attempt to rectify this problem. Gyan then had the audacity to score goals, and the fans then had the audacity to start sharing their love for Darren with him. Bent was soon off.
Now I realise this may be coming across as a bitter rant of sorts, but I did state on here previously that he would look for an excuse to find pastures new. And to prove to any Villa fan reading that I can think objectively, I can kind of see Darren’s point with this one. His complaint is that he was dropped and that he had the captaincy removed from him in an impersonal manner. On the surface it does seem a little disrespectful of Lambert not make Darren aware of his decisions privately, rather than in front of his team mates. But in Darren’s attempted justification of his dissatisfaction at the situation, he has exposed himself as being a hypocrite. By blabbing to the media about his manager, he is portraying himself as being just as disrespectful. Surely he should have approached his manager and discussed the things he felt should be discussed – in private!
Now, knowing Villa fans as I do, they are likely to flood the comments section with predictable comments. I don’t dislike Villa, I even had that minging green and black top with Muller Yoghurt on the front as a kid. To save the obvious arguments that will inevitability follow, I will list it here now to save everyone the hassle:
“You’re still bitter that he left for a bigger club” “Well it was a sideways step really, Villa don’t win things, aren’t better than us particularly, and are a similar size to us in fairness. The move was about money” “Well we’ve won a European cup and you have a crap new stadium that has no soul” “Well actually, it’s one of the better new stadiums and at least we get bigger crowds than you” “Well good luck with Martin O’Neill’s crappy and negative tactics that will see him defend and do nothing but counter attack” “Well if the football was that bad then why did his period in charge see you with the biggest attendances in recent years? Bit hypocritical” “Birmingham has been hit by the economic crisis quite bad and we have 2 teams to choose from, that’s why crowds have dipped” “Well I seriously doubt it was hit as hard as Sunderland and county Durham” “Well Sunderland is a dump, why would Bent wanna stay there?” “Players who play for us don’t live in Sunderland so that’s irrelevant. They can live where they like”.
There, that takes care of all of that. Did I miss anything??