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
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
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
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.