TFN Editor Hugo Greenhalgh reflects on Darren Bent’s recent tribulations after scoring on his Brighton debut…
In Greek tragedy, the term hubris refers to ‘excessive pride or self-confidence’ leading to nemesis, a moment of divine retribution. While the gods don’t appear to be shining on either Brighton or Fulham much this season, as soon as Darren Bent cupped his ear to the travelling support as he opened the scoring, it seemed inevitable it would come back to haunt him. This was the fifth time Bent has scored on his debut, having also done so for Charlton, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Fulham, but it was not enough to seal the points which Sami Hyppia’s side so badly need. Bent’s celebration seemed to galvanise Fulham and they came back to win 2-1.
Since losing the talismanic Leonardo Ulloa to Leicester, Brighton have struggled to find the net this season. Indeed, their top scorer is defender Lewis Dunk. Bent’s arrival on a one-month loan was one of great excitement, a proven goalscorer with a point to prove after being left out in the cold by Villa manager Paul Lambert. This was his first goal since February and Bent’s mind will surely be on the January window and the possibility of sealing a move back to the Premier League, although he will of course be hoping to take Brighton out of the relegation zone in the process. Continue reading →
Josh Dishman returns to The False Nine with some thoughts on the Premier League’s Danish arrivals and departures…
The beginning of this Premier League season held great hope for followers of the Danish Superliga. The summer transfer window saw three of its standout players make their first strides into the ‘Best League in the World’, and I was interested to see how Andreas Cornelius, Nicklas Helenius and Jores Okore could adapt to the more demanding rigours of the Premier League. The fact that all three players possess the requisite physicality gave me every confidence that they would represent Denmark proudly after the shambles that was Christian Poulsen in Hodge-era Liverpool. Yet things have not gone according to plan.
On the face of it, it’s fair enough to assume that none of the signings have paid off. Record signing Cornelius returned to FC Copenhagen with his sole contribution being as collateral in the sackings of manager Malky Mackay and Head of Recruitment Iain Moody. Despite being bought for comparatively meagre sums of money, Aston Villa’s Danish signings have had a nightmare start to English football. Helenius’ only telling contribution thus far has been as a viral hit after his shorts fell down whilst shooting against Tottenham, and his team mate Okore, who had made a promising start to his Aston Villa career, has been sidelined since suffering a season-ending knee injury back in September. Continue reading →
David Wild looks at Aston Villa’s progression in Paul Lambert’s second season at the helm…
“People think we are doing poorly and we are sitting tenth – it’s really incredible, the perception of it.” – Paul Lambert
Aston Villa are one of the more curious teams in the Premier League. A rich European cup winning history behind them, they currently sit in 10th with 27 points from 24 games and are five points off the relegation zone. Considering their previous two league finishes were 15th and 16th respectively you would think that the fans would be praising their team and a march into the upper echelons of the league was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“95 per cent of Villa fans want boss Paul Lambert sacked” – talkSport listener Jan 13th
Back on Boxing Day Crystal Palace beat Villa 1-0. This made four losses on the trot and six defeats in nine at home. There was, almost unbelivably, a movement towards ‘Lambert Out’ on social media, phone ins and in some media. Continue reading →
Dave Wild reflects on the world of partnerships in football…
“Perfect partners don’t exist. Perfect conditions exist for a limited time in which partnerships express themselves best.” – Wayne RooneyIt’s not often that you have the chance to start an article with a quote from Croxteth’s least heralded philosopher. Yet to hear the Manchester United striker’s words turns the mind to an interesting dynamic in football. The chemistry of a good partnership; a whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The debate on the virtues of individuality versus those of teamwork was nicely summarised in October 2013’s Premier League goal of the month competition. Would it be Arsenal’s intricate clockwork machination of one touch teamwork finish rounded off by Jack Wilshere or the explosive individual brilliance of Pajtim Kasami’s wonder strike? The public overwhelmingly voted in favour of Arsenal’s irresistible metronomic goal, perhaps explaining where our idolatry of the footballing partnership lies. We love to see a team working together. Continue reading →
Ethan Meade returns to The False Nine fold with a look at why some of Football Manager‘s most notable wonderkids failed to justify their early hype in the real world…
“I was the most wanted kid in England at 14 and I became arrogant with it. I thought, “I’ve made it, I’m the best player in the world, and no one can talk to me”
The shelf life of a footballer is a remarkably short one. Players can be a hero one week and a villain the next; just ask Cherno Samba. Rated as a 14 year old as the player who was set to spearhead England’s 2006 World Cup hopes, by 2008, he’d been released by Plymouth Argyle. Samba’s story is an all too common one in the modern world of football scouting, of over-exposure at a young age, and missed opportunities.
Samba rose to prominence as a 13 year-old in 1998, when he scored 132 goals in 32 games for St Joseph’s Academy in Blackheath. With agents already swirling around the youngster from Peckham – his father claims one agent offered him £25,000 to represent his son – Samba began training at Millwall. It was at the age of 14, that amid interest from a number of top clubs, Liverpool allegedly offered Millwall £2 million for the trainee. He went on a week-long trial at the Anfield giants, and a week later, took a phone call from Michael Owen, advising him to sign on at the Anfield club. Continue reading →
Despite his limitations, TFN’s David Wild reckons Darren Bent is well deserving of a second chance…
“There are not many young English players who have the pedigree and finishing class that Darren has shown over a number of years in the Premier League. In the League, only Wayne Rooney and Didier Drogba have scored more goals in the last five years than his 81 goals.” – Gerard Houllier,
The story of Darren Bent is one that mirrors the changes in the fabric of the English game. Gerard Houlliers description of him here came in 2011 when Bent was 27, at the peak of his powers.
Such a goal scoring record, in line with the main front men at the two clubs competing for the Premier League title, should surely have made the striker a commodity hungered after by all of the top clubs in England, if not Europe. Instead at the time he was being transferred from Sunderland in 6th to Aston Villa in 17th in the Premier League Continue reading →
After overcoming a tough first year at Villa Park, Greg Johnson reckons great things are just around the corner for Paul Lambert’s young squad…
Football management is a profession beset by cautious conservatism. In the constant race for results a coach must be ruthless in their methods in order to secure their long-term future and continued employment. Well-meaning plans and nice ideas carry little weight under the financial stakes and pressure of the professional game where dropping out of your sub-tier within a division can be almost as damaging as relegation itself.
Arsenal’s string of consistent top four finishes are often mocked for their faux-trophy status yet for clubs who fall out of that select group, regaining entry can cost as much as effort and money as a fully invested title challenge. This reality has dawned slowly on Liverpool’s initially naïve owners and their vast array of sentimentally optimistic supporters. Similarly, Aston Villa’s slump from the top six has seen the club struggle to stand still as the slope leading back up the table grew ever more slippery thanks to the resurgence of Tottenham Hotspur and the bump down effect of Manchester City’s extremely well funded Champions League insurgency.
Last season Paul Lambert injected the decisive radicalism Villa needed to not only stop the rot that had crumbled their Europe bothering foundations, but to build a platform to recapture those heady heights once more. Continue reading →