give darren bent a chance
That's all Tim Sansom is saying ...
The weird world of English football can send even the most rational of fans into an emotional breakdown. Your roller coaster ride travels at such a pace that it becomes difficult for the average fan to remember what they were thinking about their team, two hours previously.
It was not that long ago when I was sitting in White Hart Lane during the first half of the recent Tottenham versus Liverpool league game, with a horde of angry Spurs fans blaming everything that was wrong with their team on Darren Bent.
I have to express an interest. I was watching a very young Darren Bent breaking through into an Ipswich team, when there was little hope around Portman Road. My team had been relegated in 2002 in ‘perfect’ unison with the collapse of ITV digital. Ipswich slipped into administration and the days of Finidi George and Marcus Stewart were over. Town had to turn to the youngsters to fill a team.
For a fan who craves the sight of attacking forwards who were not afraid to run with the ball, Darren Bent and Darren Ambrose were the only rays of sunshine amongst the dark clouds of administration, and worries whether Ipswich Town would even survive as a football club.
Like so many Town players, Bent has never quite made it after leaving Portman Road. His time at Charlton was like a bunch of faulty Christmas tree fairy lights. You got occasional flashes, but nothing particularly long lasting.
There was an international call up at Anfield, where Bent spent most of it time running around in circles, with the hope of a vain ball from the sleeping midfield. After being built up in the pre-match hype as the next great saviour for England, Bent was immediately cast aside into the same pit of failure as Scott Parker and Andrew Johnson.
The £16 million move to Tottenham created unwieldy expectations. Bent has played with the weight of his team on the shoulders when he has actually managed to play. Last year’s Spurs strike partnership dominated the front line, and Bent’s chances of a first team start diminished accordingly.
Let us fast forward to that wet Saturday night at the start of November 2008, and the first half of that Liverpool game. The evening had begun with that Dirk Kuyt goal, and a Spurs fan offering a prophecy of doom that “this is a going to be a long first half guys.” I got a sense that Darren Bent was shorthand for everything that was going with the team.
In some ways, you have some sympathy for the moaning fans. Regardless of the lack of resources, playing Bent in a lone striker role is never quite going to get the best of a player who wants to run with the ball and take a cheeky shot on goal.
Bent is not a target man. His height and stature stop this idea from working. Should Bent be a target man like Michael Owen ? Yet again, this is a total waste of his talents and ability. It is like trying to eat your favourite food whilst you are full of cold. You can not smell and you can not taste. It feels as if you are just eating bland solids.
Darren Bent is one of those players that has the talent and the ability to achieve sustained success. At 24 years old, he would be hoping to secure a regular England place and flourish at Spurs. Bent would also hope that there would be an end to the quibbling over his transfer fee, the suggestions that he is a Championship player struggling in the Premiership and the gripes that Bent represents everything that is wrong with Tottenham Hotspur circa 2008.
We have to give Darren Bent a chance. Do we always need to build him as a £16 million pub player ? We know that there is talent and we have to encourage that ability to surface. If we achieve that objective, we will be able to appreciate the skills of this exciting player, for his club and for his country.
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Always a player who gave us problems when we played against him when he was at Charlton. Strong, full of running, able to score goals on his own ability.
So £16 million later, what had Tottenham turned him into ?
The fee was not his fault, of course. Charlton didn't need to sell and Ipswich had to be paid their £2 million of flesh as part of the sell-on condition. And English players come at a premier price for the Premier League.
Last season was not quite the disaster for Bent that people claim. Yes, he did miss THAT chance against Arsenal at the Lane, which might have given us a lifeline. He rarely got much time on the pitch, let alone a run of games behind Berbatov and Keane. But most of all, when he did play, we did not play to his strengths.
He is not a player to play with his back to goal. He thrives on running onto through balls, especially the diagonal ball over the top.
Which is what he is getting now. Harry Redknapp might have told him what he expects from him, but that will only work if he tells the rest of the team what he expects from them to bring the best out of the striker. His good scoring run started under Ramos in pre-season, when the neat passing produced defence splitting balls into the area for him to finish off.
Once the season started, what happened to those pretty triangles outside the penalty box ?? All gone, as Spurs seemed to revert to the form of the end of last season, with no pattern, other than seemingly holding on for the draw we started with and no idea of how to bring the best out of the players we had. Language barriers might have made people put up with what was going on, but it couldn't continue.
Now Bent seems to be happier with the passes being played in front of him, where he can go for goal rather than have to hold up the ball until support arrives (or doesn't).
Bent scored eight goals last season, when he didn't really have much chance in the first team or many chances in the matches he did play.
This season, he has eleven already. I think, if anything else, Harry might have saved us a big fee on a new striker this season.
benny the ball
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