The transfer of Darren Bent to Villa is imminent – in fact, it will probably be completed as I write this short piece. But the move is somewhat being soured by petulant Sunderland fans who, for some reason or another, believe they are a better club than us. This could not be further from the truth, and just like Owen Coyle correctly ignored the idiotic murmurs that he was taking a sideways step when he moved to Bolton, Darren Bent has every right to join the 5th most successful side in England – and he has every reason to be excited about it.
Yes, Villa have got off to a bad start this season as their managerial bat switched from 3 pairs of hands and their youth academy was called upon much too prematurely. But even with this aside, Sunderland are most definitely not a better side than the Midlands outfit and for all Bruce’s wonders, I’d still be surprised if they finished above us this year. In fact, Sunderland have finished above Aston Villa just ONCE in Premier League history and you’d have to journey back 10 seasons to find that league table.
Houllier’s crop of players, missing only James Milner from last year’s first XI, finished the 09/10 season in 6th position for a third consecutive time – one point above Liverpool; and need I mention, 20 points above Sunderland. As much respect as I have for Sunderland, you can’t finish 13th in the Premier League and expect to keep hold of a 26 year old international capable of scoring 24 league goals for a midtable outfit.
And before you say it, yes we cried buckets over the departure of Gareth Barry… but that was completely justified – unlike Sunderland’s fickle and unfair attitudes. Barry had served our club for 12 years – Bent was in red and white for 2. Villa had just begun knocking on the Champions League door after residing in the top 4 bracket for so long the previous year. Man City meanwhile, had stretched their lack of silverware to 33 years and finished the season in a solid 10th place position. We were only receiving £12m from the richest club in the world for our most prized asset – whereas Villa are doubling their club record transfer fee just to bring Bent to Bodymoor Heath. Nevertheless, in hindsight, it could be fair to say that maybe we can see through Barry’s actions as he watched almost half a million pounds add on to his bank account each month and Man City compete for the Premier League top spot this term.
On the contrary, Villa’s highest paid player collects just 70K each week and even that is rare for one of Lerner’s employees. So to say that Bent is a money-grabber is absolutely absurd. Maybe the hitman simply woke up one morning and realised that he is 26 and in the form of his life. He is competing with the likes of Drogba, Tevez, Rooney and Torres each year and he is finishing a whopping 50% of his club’s league goals (09/10 season) – maybe Bent plainly realised that he was better than Sunderland.
And just like Bent would like to play for one of the top 4; and just like an established top 6 side like Villa would like to acquire the services of people like Rooney, maybe both parties realised that we were the next best thing for each other. And maybe Dazza believes that he is the missing piece in the Villa Park jigsaw puzzle – and that with him, his new quality teammates, our exciting batch of youngsters, and the proud honourable tradition can once again see the light and with him, 21st century Aston Villa can step up one more level.
And what do you know… Welcome to Villa, Darren – make us believe again.