Two months after Darren Bent left us to chase the pound sign at Aston Villa, and with the Villians being a club seemingly in crisis, now is as good a time as any to look back on the whole saga, and speculate what the future may bring.
As a huge Sunderland fan, the week between our (fortunate) draw with the Mags at the SOL and our victory at Bloomfield Road over Blackpool will always haunt me.
I thought I was traumatised enough that our illustrious neighbours had made us look genuinely poor for the second time in a season, when, on the Monday, Times reporter George Caulkin's Twitter feed read "Sunderland fans, big news coming soon"... Now, while even the most persistant neysayer on Brucie wouldn't have imagined that he would have got the boot for failing against 'tha Toon' twice in one season, I honestly couldn't think of anything else that could be going on.
That is, of course, until the news struck, that Darren Bent had handed in a transfer request, and that Villa's bid for him had been accepted. Message boards were flooded with the kind of knee jerk reaction that us football fans do best. "He's been rubbish this season anyway", "Yes he's scored, but he never hits the ball cleanly" ect ect.
I, personally, did things the other way around. I can honestly say that Darren was my favourite player at the club. I loved to see him play, frustrating as he may be at times, but he also seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and don't forget that for every chance Bent missed, Murphy, Cisse, Kenwyne and however many before them had missed more, a lot more. So rather than vent my frustration at Mr Bent, I was honestly upset by what was happening. My Facebook status on that day even read "Dan Williams has lost some of his love for football today". It didn't make sense to me, and I couldn't believe that someone who had openly said, on many occasions, that he hoped to become a legend at our club, would be leaving.
But of course, as the saga unfolded, things started to look a little less rosy on the Bent side of things, and it seemed to almost everyone that the move had been motivated by one thing, money. Even his good friend, the afore-mentioned George Caulkin seemed to suggest that he felt let down by the decision, and it was all about the cash, when I interviewed him for this site. Other rumours were doing the rounds of course, Darren wasn't happy with Asamoah Gyan stealing his limelight, or being asked to play out wide while the Ghana man took centre stage. But with an improved contract in his pocket, Bent took to his first press conference in the Midlands and spouted the same drivel that he'd said to us with hunger and an innocent look in his eye. He had moved to a massive club, he wanted to thrive in the area, he wanted to become a legend, he wanted the fans to love him, he wanted a laundrette to be named after him. Ok, not quite, but you know what I mean.
So has the move worked out well for Mr Moneybags? The answer, it seems, is yes and no.
Villa are a club in crisis, and that is something that even Aston Villa's most staunt supporters would probably agree to. Players have been fined for fighting among each other, the team is in freefall and producing very few results, while the general consensus of the fans is that they want rid of the manager, who has only been at the club since September. All of this prompted our former number eleven to play a few mind games today, saying of the manager "He wants us to play this way and we've got to get on with it and adapt to it." Not just me that can hear a little blame towards the Frenchman thrown in there? The ironic thing is that Darren is complaining about having to battle it out on his own up front. The very same striker that apparently 'got the face on' when being asked to play alongside a partner is now moaning about having to fulfill a role that he seemed to revel in. There seems to be no pleasing Darren Ashley Bent.
Admittedly the move has got Bent into the England squad, as we all know that Fabio Capello's SatNav stops working when it hits Manchester, and infuriatingly, the Italian came out to say that Bent was a big part of his plans only a week-or-so after his move, when all that us Sunderland fans could see had changed was his post code, but I digress.
It would be unfair to say that we haven't missed having Darren in the team. Our miserable run recently points to that, and although we can argue that we have been unlucky with injuries, we really have been toothless up front, but we are also a reported £24m better off in the summer, when a replacement may become available.
With Aston Villa currently sitting one point above the relegation zone, and suffering a bragging rights disaster against Wolves last time out, it looks as though there is a very real chance that Darren and his 'big club' could be spending next season in the Championship, remember, no team is too big to go down, just ask the Mags. But what would become of Mr Bent then? Would he pledge his alleigence to a Villa team in England's second tier, and maintain his desire to become a hero there too?
Something tells me that the pound signs might shine a little brighter again if Villa were to tumble into the Championship, and I personally, with nothing against the club, only the attitude of their club record signing, sincerely hope that come the end of May, they are in the bottom three of the Premiership.
Feel free, Sunderland fans and Villa supporters alike, to comment, and let us know your opinion on the whole saga. Who did the move benefit? Who came out on top? And can any of us actually trust a word that comes out of Bent's mouth?