With everybody, including myself, caught up in who may replace Darren Bent in the SAFC striking department, I’ve done my best to do some digging on how we will progress without him.
As things stand, we have one fit striker, Asamoah Gyan; luckily he’s a bloody good striker. Danny Welbeck is having an exploratory operation on his knee, which will set him back a further few weeks, and at the same time Fraizer Campbell remains on the road to recovery and both could be back about the same time in February.
We’ve already speculated as to why Bent may have decided battling relegation was preferable to earning a place in Europe. However I did find an article whilst digging around, which could both answer the Darren Bent situation, and how we will progress without ‘The Truth’.
It’s been widely reported now that Bent handed in a first transfer request at the back end of August, which was politely turned down by the powers that be at SAFC.
In early September 2010, Bruce said this upon signing Asamoah Gyan...
"The arrival of Asamoah gives us more tactical options than we had before. I wanted somebody to lead the line, and the one thing that Asamoah has always done for Ghana and for Rennes is play as lone striker."
Having seen Bent & Gyan play poorly together, I think this clearly proves that a) Bruce saw Gyan as a lone gun up front for the lads, and b) Bent can’t have been too happy about this.
With just one striker, we will obviously be turning to a 4-5-1 formation. Not favoured by the fans, however Bruce countered that with...
"A lot of people say that it’s defensive if you play with one striker, but Arsenal has done it for a while now. But their midfield players flood forward and they almost end up with three strikers. Chelsea is another one – they only play with one out-and-out striker."
The key phrase there; "Midfielders flood forward." Its clear SAFC right now doesn’t have the players to do so, we’d need at least two creative midfielders.
But from players linked in the media, and players mentioned by Bruce himself, who would be happy with a team along the lines of this come the start of February?
Onouha – Bramble – Mensah – Bardsley
Muntari – Cattermole
Henderson – Sessegnon – N’Zogbia
There’s even the wiggle room to go 4-4-2 by bringing Welbeck into the game. Or perhaps he can replace one of the Henderson, Sessegnon, N’Zogbia trio.
I’d love to see that team step out at the Stadium Of Light, and lead us on a charge into Europe. Look at the names too – Muntari; Quinn is reported to be in Italy as I write this trying to tie up a deal. Sessegnon; Turning into a bit of a saga, but he clearly doesn’t want to be at PSG, and has already looked around the SOL and AOL. N’Zogbia; A long term target of Bruce, and with the sort of money we received for Bent burning a hole in his pocket, how will he be able to resist a bid?
And that’s it really. SAFC fans should not panic if a striker isn’t brought in to ‘replace’ Bent, they should embrace the fact that a manager has the balls to move with the times. The afore mentioned Chelsea, Arsenal and the majority of the time United, City & Tottenham all only play with one up front, and they regularly occupy the top 5 positions.
I’m looking forward to our new look team, and I’m backing Bruce on this one.