Tag Archives: Darren Bent

Premier League Files: Darren Bent

Premier League Career: Ipswich Town (2001-2002), Charlton Athletic (2005-2007), Tottenham Hotspur (2007-2009), Sunderland (2009-2011), Aston Villa (2011-2013, 2014), Fulham (2013-2014)

In February 2018, Darren Bent will turn 34. His experience will come in handy for his current club, Derby County in the second half of the SkyBet Championship season as they look to try and end their Premier League exile.

Bent has already played for six sides in the Premier League and his form at a number of these teams earned him England recognition on 12 occasions, scoring four times for the Three Lions. When he was in peak form, there were few better strikers in the land than Darren Bent.

After considering a possible career in athletics, Darren decided to go down the football route and began at Ipswich Town, joining their youth system at the age of 14. In 2001, he made his Premier League debut for The Tractor Boys in a 2-1 home defeat to Bolton Wanderers. Just 17 at the time, Bent got a brief taste of Premier League life before Ipswich’s 2002 relegation, appearing seven times and even scoring a winning goal against Middlesbrough in April.

His exceptional development continued at Ipswich, improving his goalscoring tallies with every passing season. Their failure to escape the First Division though led to him seeking his future away from Suffolk and it was Charlton Athletic who signed him in the summer of 2005, paying £2.5 million for his services. Bent took to his new surroundings like a duck to water. He scored in his first four appearances as Charlton beat Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City to sit joint-top in the table. His excellent beginning also won him the Premier League Player of the Month award for August 2005. Charlton’s form dipped dramatically afterwards and they finished only 13th but Bent’s didn’t. He was the highest English scorer in the division with 18 goals and was only outscored by Thierry Henry and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2005-2006. He was desperately unlucky to miss out on England’s 2006 World Cup squad, with Sven-Goran Eriksson bizarrely picking the untried Theo Walcott instead.

He added another 13 goals in 2006-2007 but Alan Curbishley had gone as manager and three managers that season said it all about how life went at The Valley after his departure. The Addicks were relegated at the end of the season. Charlton knew they had to sell Bent following their Premier League demise. West Ham United had a bid accepted but the move was turned down by the player. Instead, he moved to Tottenham Hotspur for £16.5 million.

Whilst his Charlton stint on a personal basis was a qualified success, life proved much tougher in the capital. He only managed eight goals in his first full season at White Hart Lane and was an unused substitute in the 2008 League Cup final win over Chelsea. With Dimitar Berbatov, Robbie Keane and Jermain Defoe also available on the striking roster, Bent found it difficult to establish himself. When they all left, Bent became the main forward for the 2008-2009 campaign and was their top scorer in the Premier League with 12 goals in 33 matches. However, Harry Redknapp was not a fan of the player when he succeeded Juande Ramos.

In a game at home to Portsmouth in January 2009 and with the score at 1-1, Bent put a header wide of the post when he really should have scored. Redknapp said afterwards: “You will never get a better chance to win a match than that. My missus could have scored that one.” 

Feeling unloved at Tottenham, Darren moved to Sunderland in August 2010 for £16.5 million despite some frustrating delays in the negotiations between the clubs. 2009-2010 would be his best campaign. Bent’s goals were valuable to keeping the Wearsiders away from the relegation battle. In a struggling side, he scored 24 times, incredibly 50% of their Premier League total for the season. Among the highlights were a hat-trick against Bolton Wanderers, a winning goal at home to Liverpool FC which struck a beach ball on its way in and two goals in a home victory against former club Tottenham Hotspur in April.

He scored another eight times in the first 20 matches of the 2010-2011 season, including a double at Anfield to earn a point and a stoppage-time penalty to beat Manchester City. However, he surprisingly left the club in January 2011 after submitting a transfer request to force a move through to Aston Villa. Villa paid Sunderland £18 million, potentially rising to £24 million with add-ons to secure the services of the player. He made a brilliant start to his Villa career, scoring a second winner for the season against Manchester City and two goals in a 2-1 away success at Arsenal in May. Despite only joining the Villans in January, he ended as the club’s joint-top scorer with Ashley Young on nine goals apiece.

In 2011-2012, he became the 21st player in Premier League history to reach the milestone of 100 goals in the competition after scoring an equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Queens Park Rangers in February. Three weeks later, he ruptured ankle ligaments at Wigan Athletic which ended his campaign and lost him a decent opportunity of making the EURO 2012 England squad. Nevertheless, he still finished as Aston Villa’s top goalscorer with 10 goals.

Christian Benteke’s arrival in the summer of 2012 pushed Bent down the pecking order at Villa Park, as new manager Paul Lambert preferred a partnership of Benteke and Gabby Agbonlahor in attack. Despite being named the club’s interim vice-captain, he only featured 16 times and moved to Fulham on-loan for the 2013-2014 campaign. He scored a late winner against Stoke in October 2013 and also struck a late equaliser to earn a creditable point at Old Trafford in February 2014. However, his spell at Fulham was disappointing as they were relegated to the Championship. He returned to Aston Villa that summer and sporadically featured seven further times before dropping down to the second tier, first for a brief loan spell with Brighton & Hove Albion and then joining Derby County permanently in the summer of 2015.

Bent has scored 22 league goals for The Rams but a torn hamstring in pre-season has meant he hasn’t figured yet this season for Gary Rowett’s side. He will be hoping to make a contribution to their promotion push in the second half of the campaign.

A sharp shooter and combative player to face upto, Darren Bent has made a career out of scoring goals and he has done it very well throughout his time in the Premier League.


Referees in the Middle: Mike Jones

Premier League Career: 2008-PRESENT

First Premier League Match: Hull City 0-5 Wigan Athletic (30 August 2008)

Mike Jones is approaching the landmark of 200 games refereed in the Premier League. He is one of the more modern refs, having only begun his referee career two decades ago. The 49-year-old from Cheshire’s first match in the Football League was a Division Two clash between Mansfield Town and Hull City in August 1997.

After 11 seasons in the Football League, Jones was promoted to the Select Group of Referees in 2008, allowing him the opportunity to take control of Premier League matches. His first match in the top-flight was Wigan Athletic’s resounding 5-0 victory away at Hull City in August 2008. That still remains Wigan’s biggest Premier League victory.

Big finals haven’t come the way of Mike Jones yet. His most high-profile appointment was the 2007 League Two play-off final, sending off Marc Tierney of Shrewsbury Town in their 3-1 loss to Bristol Rovers. Tierney became the second player to be sent off at the new Wembley after its significant redevelopment.

Some like the way he attempts to allow games to flow. Others don’t. Former top-flight referee Keith Hackett was especially critical in 2016, saying in an article for the Daily Telegraph: “Too soft and inconsistent to be a referee at this level.”

The most embarrassing moment of Mike’s Premier League career came in October 2009 when he was involved in one of the most bizarre goals in Premier League history. Sunderland were playing Liverpool FC and took the lead early on at the Stadium of Light, courtesy of a goal from Darren Bent. Replays showed Bent’s shot took a deflection off a beach ball that had been thrown onto the pitch by visiting supporters before kick-off! The goal was allowed to stand and Sunderland won the match 1-0. Jones was demoted for a week from Premier League duty and the beach ball eventually ended up being an exhibit at the National Football Museum in Manchester.

However, he is still going strong and I would expect him to be part of the Premier League refereeing fraternity for some time to come.

Memorable Matches: Charlton Athletic 2-2 Fulham (December 2006)

Goalscorers: Brian McBride 13, Darren Ambrose 19, Darren Bent 45, Franck Queudrue 90


Charlton Athletic: Scott Carson, Djimi Traore, Talal El Karkouri, Hermann Hreidarsson, Osei Sankofa, Radostin Kishishev, Matt Holland, Darren Ambrose (Bryan Hughes 74), Jerome Thomas (Dennis Rommedahl 45), Darren Bent, Marcus Bent (Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 82)

Fulham: Antti Niemi, Franck Queudrue, Carlos Bocanegra, Philippe Christanval, Liam Rosenior, Moritz Volz (Claus Jensen 74), Michael Brown, Wayne Routledge, Tomasz Radzinski, Brian McBride, Heidar Helguson (Collins John 65)

Referee: Graham Poll, Attendance: 25,203

Charlton Athletic were experiencing a very difficult 2006. Long-time manager Alan Curbishley had elected to step aside at the end of the previous season and they were finding life after him incredibly tough. The Addicks were now onto their fourth manager of the calendar year.

Former player Alan Pardew was appointed to try and revive their fortunes. He replaced Les Reed days before Christmas. His appointment came just over a fortnight after his sacking by West Ham United. Pardew’s first match in charge of Charlton was a London derby against Fulham, who notoriously struggled away from home. Chris Coleman’s side had won just one game on the road all season.

It was the visitors’ who started the brighter and they took the lead after 13 minutes. Central defender Carlos Bocanegra was given plenty of space in the penalty area by the Charlton defenders. The American met Franck Queudrue’s free-kick and smashed a header against the crossbar via help from Scott Carson’s fingertips. Unfortunately for the home side, Brian McBride was the quickest to react and finished expertly to give Fulham the early advantage.

Pardew would have wanted a response and he got it. Just six minutes later, Charlton were back on level terms. Jerome Thomas tried his luck but miscued a volley which Antti Niemi made a meal of. Darren Ambrose pounced to equalise. His shot went in off the post.

Charlton went onto dominate the rest of the first half and took the lead right on the stroke of half-time. Carson’s long goal-kick was not dealt with by two Fulham defenders. This allowed the always alert Darren Bent to bear down on goal and finish calmly past Niemi.

The home side continued to show more attacking intent after the interval. Pardew brought on the pacey Dennis Rommedahl for Thomas and he was a constant menace throughout the second half. Niemi was forced into action when the Dane tried to score from a very acute angle.

It looked like Charlton were closing in on only a third Premier League win of the season but an appalling decision would deny Pardew a winning start. Tomasz Radzinski and Djimi Traore had a battle on the touchline and the ball went off Radzinski. However, the linesman gave Fulham a free-kick rather than Charlton a throw-in. From the set-piece, the Addicks’ failed to deal with Michael Brown’s ball into the box and Franck Queudrue smashed home a fortuitous equaliser. Charlton had been denied what would have been a deserved victory.

The result kept them seven points adrift of safety and ultimately, Pardew had too much to do. They were relegated in early May and haven’t returned to the Premier League since. Fulham only survived on the penultimate weekend with Lawrie Sanchez seeing them over the finish line after Coleman was sacked in April 2007.