After scoring a dramatic equalizing goal against West Bromwich Albion on the weekend, Aston Villa's Darren Bent has spoken out about his surprise omission from the Villians' starting side—stating that he was just as surprised as anyone else about the decision.
The striker has had a tumultuous month, including losing his England international duties, his captaincy at Villa and now potentially even his place in the starting side. It's little wonder that Bent is feeling under pressure and wants to hit back at those that aren't helping him continue to move forward in his career—be that Paul Lambert or whomever else.
The former England international was reportedly in the middle of a rift with his manager, Lambert, during the week, which was surely only strengthened after the manager's shock decision to start new signing Christian Benteke ahead of Bent.
I only found out when the gaffer read the team-sheet out. It's frustrating and disappointing. I can't remember the last time it happened.
I've not spoken to him at all about why he [Paul Lambert] left me out. We'll probably speak in the week.
Strikers are always judged on scoring goals. My confidence was back after getting the one against Southampton and I thought that would build me up for Sunday, but it wasn't to be. I'm always a confident character, and if I get the chance, I'll score the goals.
Benteke—the man who replaced Bent in the starting side—was largely ineffective against the Baggies, and made way for the 28-year-old in the 69th minute. The former Genk forward took six shots, none of which hit the target, and only picked up 33 touches of the ball—which would turn out to be fewer than that of goalkeeper Brad Guzan (according to WhoScored).
Fortunately for Lambert, his decision to bring on Bent for Benteke was somewhat of an inspired move, as the England international netted the game-tying goal late in the match to salvage a point for the desperate home team.
It does raise the question again of whether there is or isn't anything happening between Bent and Lambert, and if there is, what the ramifications for Villa could be.
The manager was quoted via The Daily Mail yesterday saying that he had spoken to the striker and he was reportedly "fine" about being left out of the team—something that doesn't quite seem to match up with Bent's latest comments.
He was also on the record as saying that he "needs everyone, it's a collective thing...I never look at individuals," which perhaps might offer some interesting insight into the underlying tensions at Aston Villa between the two parties.
This does seem somewhat bizarre because, in reality, the two parties actually have more in common than they do in opposition at the moment.
Both are clearly under pressure for their respective performances, and both know that unless they improve with the chances they are given in the next few months, they may be dropped further and further out of favor with their relevant superiors.
For Lambert, it's about getting results and picking up wins; for Bent, it's about scoring goals and proving his place in the starting side.
And for the sake of Aston Villa as a football club in the English Premier League, both those things need to start happening as soon as possible if they are to salvage anything from their 2012-13 season.
Should Darren Bent be in the starting side at Aston Villa?
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