By Ryan Fleming
If rumors of Sunderland’s and Darren Bent’s demise … I mean, change of paths are true, then I am utterly confused – sort of. After handing in a written request to manager Steven Bruce, Bent showed his desire at moving away from the Stadium of Light and on to bigger and better things. Really? Not quite.
Aston Villa have reported offered somewhere between £18 million and £24 million for the England international. The move makes complete sense for Villa, a team struggling against relegation zone and are as inconsistent as weather in New England. With the move for Bent, Villa are showing, to its supporters at least, that the team’s dedication to success can no longer be questioned and the fight not only against relegation, but to make an impression in the second half of the season, is on.
In regards to Sunderland, the move really doesn’t make much sense at least in the short term. Despite being managed by one of the best in the English Premier League, Bruce’s side has also struggled with inconsistency, especially as of late. Sunderland were embarrassingly shown the door out of the FA Cup by League One side, Notts County, after defeating Blackburn 3-0 and Villa 1-0.
Outside the goal-scoring trio of Asamoah Gyan (7 goals),Bent (8 goals), and on-loan Danny Welbeck (6 goals), the Black Cats have manged a mere three goals, showcasing their problems on offense. If Bent departs, which seems the most likely of scenarios, then Sunderland will immediately handcuff themselves offensively. Bruce, fortunately has the luxury of turning to some of his talented players and ask goals of them. Players like Jason Henderson and Ahmed Al Muhammadi could be a couple of those to be counted on.
With no immediate replacement currently linked up front, Bruce might deem it necessary to bolster his midfield with the likes of Michael Bradley, who currently plays for Borussia Mönchengladbach in Germany’s Bundesliga, with talks of a transfer in the works. Bruce’s hand will be forced if he wants Sunderland, currently in sixth position, to somehow manage a spot in the top-10 of the EPL. With Danny Welbeck returning to Manchester United at the end of the season and no replacement in sight, Bruce will have to get the best out of the youngster while keeping an eye on a great transfer pickup opportunity.
Villa on the other hand seem to be stepping in the right direction. The addition of Bent will assure a struggling team goals and finally a strong option for midfielders Stewart Downing and Stiliyan Petrov to provide service for. The ambitions of Bent, though, are in question. Why leave for a team that faces relegation rather than play for one of the toughest teams in the league to beat and is in every game? Maybe this is one of the questions better left unanswered.
Ryan Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.