The FA, in traditionally clueless fashion, mucked up the announcement of Fabio Capello’s final squad, allowing names of players supposedly omitted or included to be leaked all over the shop while, for whatever reason, dithering over an official statement. At 3pm BST, they finally got round to saying there’d be an announcement in an hour. Why couldn’t they have made this clear earlier, or explained why they couldn’t make it clear? Are they really as hard of thinking as they seem determined to appear? And so it was in the end confirmed, and to no great surprise among Sunderland fans, that Capello had found no room for Darren Bent in the 23-strong squad heading for South Africa. Darren – the great image is from Addick-TedKevin‘s Flickr pages – has learnt a sharp lesson from the Book of Certainties: to be both a Sunderland player, and chosen for England, is one of football’s tallest orders …
When Kevin Keegan picked Kevin Phillips, then the best striker in the Premier League and not even playing in a top six team, to go to Holland and Belgium for Euro 2000, some of us looked forward to seeing how our star would fare at international level.
He was never given the chance.
England proceeded to flatter to deceive, leading Portugal 2-0 in the first game before losing 3-2 and then beating Germany 1-0 before crashing out with another 3-2 defeat, by Romania. SuperKev was not even sent on as a sub in any of the three games.
Darren Bent would be forgiven for feeling it is better not to go to South Africa at all than to suffer Phillips’s unwarranted fate. He was given only a token chance to impress in the build-up to today’s final selection by Fabio Capello, and was unable to work the miracles that would have been needed to change the manager’s mind.
Salut! Sunderland congratulates Darren on a magnificent first season in our colours, salutes the way he forced Capello to recognise his claims for inclusion in the provisional squad – and sympathises with him over this ultimate rejection.
Geoff Hurst, who knows a thing or two about scoring goals for England, summed it up rather well for BBC 5 Live:
Emile Heskey hasn’t played all year and hasn’t scored goals, whereas Darren Bent has played all season and scored 25 goals – so if you’re picking on form, it’d have to be Bent. I don’t think that’ll happen, but it’s my opinion.
But even Geoff didn’t get it quite as spot-on as Sobs – Paul Dobson – in this magisterial pronouncement after an earlier posting here:
“If I knew nothing of the situation, and watched the Japan game as a neutral, I wouldn’t take Bent either. But looking at the team performance, especially the second half, I don’t think I’d take any of the outfield players on show. They didn’t play one ball to Bent’s strengths in the first 45, then when he wasn’t there in the second, they tried to. Performances like that in the Prem are what get managers sacked. Was there any point in playng Heskey? Another typical, tumbling performance which told Capello nothing he didn’t already know, but he’ll still take the world’s least prolific target-man.”
This morning, Salut! Sunderland also prepared a congratulatory posting in case Fabio ignored the Londoncentric sports writers and chosen Darren after all.
He didn’t, so the piece is redundant. Our man joined Leighton Baines, Michael Dawson, Tom Huddlestone, Scott Parker, Adam Johnson and Theo Walcott in missing out.
But enjoy your summer all the same, Darren, thanks for saving our season from potential disaster and please give us more of the same in the Premier next season.
* Long before the FA emerged from crass ignorance of basic public relations and finally announced the squad, Darren Bent had Tweeted: “Am gutted. But thank you for all your support this season.”
The full squad is:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, David James, Robert Green.
Defenders: Jamie Carragher, Ashley Cole, Rio Ferdinand, Glen Johnson, Ledley King, John Terry, Matthew Upson, Stephen Warnock
Midfielders: Gareth Barry, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Forwards: Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Emile Heskey, Wayne Rooney