It is no secret that Darren Bent was unhappy at Villa under Lambert, where the striker claims he was ‘alienated’, so it came as no surprise when Bent headed off to Fulham on a season-long loan, feeling he had been ‘kicked out’ of Villa Park.
The criticism of Bent by Villa fans seemed to revolve around the argument that there is much more to being a first-rate centre forward nowadays than simply scoring goals.
However, criticisms aside, it’s clear that Bent is an instinctive striker and a proven Premier League goal-scorer so few would have been shocked to see Bent tapping home Berbatov’s cross at Craven Cottage on Saturday. When he appeared as a second half substitute and netted his first goal for Fulham, that was the fourth time Bent has scored on his debut for a Premier League club.
With Bent, arguably very unlucky not to have been selected for the last World Cup given his impressive record at the time, desperate to score his way into Hodgson’s strategies again, he started as he means to go on at Craven Cottage. Whatever Villa fans and Paul Lambert may think of him, his new boss, Martin Jol, and team-mates are extremely pleased to have him in their side. Midfielder Patjim Kasami fully expects Bent to make a difference for the Cottagers: “…everyone knows what he is capable of – he’s a well-known striker and we all know how good he is and I think he will help us a lot this season.”
Another player who failed to see any action under Lambert, following a reported bust-up with the new gaffer, but, having signed a new two-year contract with the club this summer, who is more likely to return to B6, is Ireland U21 international Samir Carruthers.
The promising 20-year-old attacking midfielder is on loan to League One side MK Dons until January and he netted his first professional goal in the Dons’ thrilling 2-2 draw with Bristol City on Saturday when he came on as a second half substitute at Stadium:mk.
Even before captaining Villa’s young guns to NextGen success at Lake Como last season, Carruthers was well known to followers of Villa’s youth and academy teams for his skill, technique and confidence on the ball. On Saturday afternoon, Carruthers took his chance brilliantly, rounding Bristol City’s keeper with a curved strike. He was obviously delighted: “That was my first professional goal of my career, so I had the best feeling. I was a big bundle of energy and just went crazy!”
Also out on loan are Nathan Delfouneso, enjoying an extended spell with Championship side Blackpool after scoring 7 goals in 43 appearances across all competitions for The Tangerines last season, and Graham Burke, who is with Shrewsbury Town of League One until January. Today, Enda Stevens, the forgotten 23-year-old full back, has also signed for Notts County on a short-term loan after he played only nine first team games for Villa last season.
Have you seen any of the players out on loan in action? What do you expect when the youngsters return to the fold in January? As always, your opinions are welcome.