A Sunderland supporter asked me a couple days ago where I believed his club would be right now in the Premiere League table had they not spent £10 million last summer on Darren Bent. I replied “bottom three” after summing up the striker’s 15 total goals since he moved from Spurs. My Mackem questioner replied, “Sorry mate, you are wrong. If Bent hadn’t been in the side we would be rock bottom, heading for certain relegation.”
It appeared to be a rather unpleasant appraisal when you consider the the Black Cats’ good start to a football campaign that’s gone terribly wrong since the one-nil victory on 21st November against Arsenal. And I presumed that the Sunderland supporter had forgotten that hapless old Pompey are struggling at the bottom a full 10 points behind Steve Bruce’s out-of-form side.
But when I began to do the math I did at least understand where he’s coming from. Remove the impressive goal haul by Darren from the equation and the Black Cats’ position would truly be alarming. And according to my amateur calculations, Darren has made a crucial contribution in eight tightly-contested matches that have earned Sunderland 11 vital points.
Bent has, without any help, won three games for the side this season with strikes against Arsenal, Liverpool and Bolton that contributed six extra points whilst the goals against Blackburn, Everton, Pompey away and home and Manchester United earned five draws and an extra five points.