Darren Bent and the Ear-Cup of Doom

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

Paul Lambert: Villa’s Understated Saviour


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

AVFC: Lambert’s faith in youth set for big pay off

Lambert villa

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