Well, we’ve always wanted our 20-goals-a-season front man… it looks like we just may have got him.
I read a comment earlier saying, “Aston Villa are mugs”. But, are they? £18m (possibly £24m) is an absolutely extortionate fee, granted. Aston Villa have never spent more than a dozen million on one player, true. But, guess what else? Aston Villa have never had a goalscorer this century either.
As disappointed as I am that Houllier is spending the kind of money O’Neill resigned over, I can only (unfortunately) assume that someone like Ashley Young is on his way out in order to fund this type of transfer. (Very recent reports would have us believe that Downing could be shifted out, but I think we are all more prepared for the departure of the former – so I want to ignore the Downing-to-Liverpool talk) However, if Lerner is simply willing to plough money into the new regime and give Houllier a fair crack at the whip, then I can only feel sorry for MON, but as a supporter, feel genuinely excited.
Excitement is a word which has often found itself dissociated from The Villains this season – so even if we are being “mugs”, I welcome, at least, the new lease of life into what has largely been an arid and fruitless project thus far. Excuses and apologies have been available (a lot from yours truly) from the outset of Houllier’s spell but, at the risk of sounding like a Sky Sports News pundit, at the end of the day, this is a results business. Therefore, as frustrated as I have been by the outcomes of a lot of our games, I’m thankful that Ged has made it to the transfer window to put his stamp on the club.
And yes, we’re smashing our club record and then some if we do acquire Sunderland’s prized asset. But allow me to ask: Is £18m really that bad when you consider the most recent transfers of people like Glen Johnson, Michael Carrick and of course, James Milner? We can talk all day about how these players haven’t lived up to their price tags and it would be easy to argue that at least with Darren Bent, we are guaranteed goals if nothing else (and I don’t particularly want anything else from him). But the point I’m making is that the fee of £18m is somewhat justified simply because such is the inflation of English Premier League players. Besides, Spurs spend big every year, Man City have more than £60m worth in strikers rotting in their reserves (one of these include the Brazilian enigma that is Jo), and any “big” spending on Villa’s part has always been safe, long term and largely unexciting. And we’re supposed to keep up with the likes of City and Spurs…
The prospect of “Dazza” (will that catch on?) is stimulating however. It is long term in that he can provide a good 7 years of service, but it is short term because he will deliver immediately. It is extremely exciting and to top it all off, it is still safe. He will score goals, there is absolutely no doubt about that – and for a club whose wingers lead their scoring charts, this is remarkably refreshing. He’s the type of player who doesn’t need to play well, he doesn’t need to be in the game, yet he still carries a goal-threat worthy of competing with current Premier League greats such as Torres, Rooney, Drogba and Tevez. Bent was criticized for “flopping” at Spurs, but people tend to forget that he was signed by Martin Jol who was axed just 2 months later. This, as well as his 12 league goals under Redknapp should be remembered when considering his Tottenham career. The fact that a midtable club like Sunderland were willing to spend up to £16.5m for his services speaks volumes to declare that his time at The Lane was not a shambles by any stretch of the imagination.
My next point may hurt a little…
But modern day Aston Villa are unfortunately pretty far from the top level of football. We are merely trying to preserve our top 8 status at the minute and with our nose just above the relegation zone because of Goals For this year, the acquisition of such a genuine goalscorer, coming into the prime of his career, is sincerely flattering. Don’t get me wrong, I want us back competing amongst the top 6, the top 4, but players like Van Persie and Rooney, like Drogba and Tevez, they might just be a tad too unrealistic as targets at the present moment. So why not have the next best thing?
Only 26 and already a proven goalscorer, I defy anyone to tell me we shouldn’t be signing a player like this when we’ve been crying out for him for so long. Today, I’m an excited Aston Villa fan who is willing to welcome Darren Bent to Bodymoor Heath with open, desperate arms. Who knows what tomorrow holds. Maybe a return to the upper realms of the league, and maybe a helping hand onto that coveted “next level” we are so often dreaming about.