Darren Bent is Aston Villa history now, a fleeting ‘what if’ moment, instead of leaving a legacy that would be fitting of a club’s record signing.
Bent never really eclipsed the euphoria of his debut goal in the 1-0 win against Manchester City. That was the moment you thought Villa had finally signed a 20 league goals a season kind of guy. His goals in his first season kept Villa up, but then an injury in the following season under McLeish’s reign was the beginning of the end.
Since, an on-going spat between Bent and Lambert has recently rumbled into public view through the press, and we now know Bent will never kick another ball for Villa, as he sees out the reminder of his Villa contract playing for Derby.
How quickly he went from a feather in Lerner’s cap and potential Holte hero to a £65,000-a-week inconvenience.
We’ve already discussed Bent’s Villa Park demise at length, but in a nutshell, a lot of supporters feel it went wrong for the former England international striker when his supply lines in Ashley Young and Stewart Downing were sold off and never satisfactorily replaced.
Bent was a poacher par excellence, but what good is a fox in the box, if the ball very rarely makes it into the 18-yard box?
Christian Benteke Blues
What has been noticeable in recent weeks is the frustrated figure Christian Benteke has been, when his supply lines have been cut. Toothless displays from Villa with little penetration in the final third have left the Belgian international feeding on scraps since he came back from long-term injury.
As a result, Benteke has become disillusioned and seems lacking in the desire to create and hustle the kind of chances he’d make himself, like in the majority of his first season at Villa. He has shown in recent games he doesn’t have the poacher-like instinct ala Bent to make the runs at the right time and at times he seems on a different wavelength to his team mates. But who’s fault is that?
The lack of creativity in the team or tactics is largely to blame, but Benteke’s sulking hasn’t helped.
The January window it seems has very much been about feeding Benteke and providing him with the nutrients of crosses (Scott Sinclair) and clever link play around the box (Carles Gil) to get him scoring again.
I’ve always maintained that if you have Benteke in your team you have a chance against anyone. Even more so, now Villa’s defensive backline has tightened up (which has mainly been down to having two fullbacks that can actually defend). The Belgian striker has the quality to make things happen, but he needs the ball.
Hopefully both Gil and Sinclair can bring the dimension to Villa’s play that has been distinctly lacking.
The Delph Card
Another card in Villa’s deck in helping the Villa striker out is Fabian Delph. While the club have tried to build him up to legend status this week in their marketing follow him signing a new contract, in reality Villa need more from him on the pitch.
Delph’s main attribute has been driving Villa forward from their own half into the opposition’s, but once he gets past the centre circle, he seems to rarely be effective. Little in defence-splitting passes, very few assists and only three league goals to his name during his time at Villa.
Delph through injury and suspension this season has had very little game time alongside Carlos Sanchez in the Villa midfield, since the Columbian signed. With Sanchez’s growing emergence as Villa’s defensive midfield shield hopefully this will allow Delph’s drives to begin further up the field.
Simply put, a Delph playing 10-15 yards further forward could add increased dynamism to Villa’s attacking prowess.
We’re all aware of Lambert’s growing collection of horror stats and records, and if they fail to score at the Emirates against Arsenal, it will be the first time that Villa have failed to score in six league games on the trot.
Surely, the Villa boss has the tools to now avoid anymore lacklustre forward displays. He can’t afford to allow Benteke to slip away as Bent did.