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Opinion

As Darren Bent insists on his say, I can’t forget that Fried Chicken shop incident we shared

1 month ago
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Darren Bent has been speaking on talkSport, comparing Newcastle United’s current Head Coach and former Manager.

It made me angry and I felt I had to take the opportunity to address some of the points he raised in his discussion.

I especially felt a need to do it because I have disliked Darren Bent for many years.

Firstly, because he was a Sunderland striker, but even more so due to an incident in a Fried Chicken shop in Newcastle one night.

I lived in Newcastle as a student and one Monday night after a few beverages in Digital, I went across the road to the said Fried Chicken shop for some blotting paper. In walks Darren Bent at 3am, sober as a judge and orders a load of food, while I watched in amazement that a Premier League footballer paid for fried chicken with a £50 note.

As he walked out with his food into his dolled-up Mercedes Benz, I knew he was someone who could not be trusted. He was in the same squallor as me and paid with a 50 pound note. The most expensive thing you could get there was like £7.

The face of the guy behind the till looked like he had been told that his favourite TV show had been cancelled after Darren, with no sense of irony, told him that he of course didn’t have anything smaller to pay for his meal.

Scuttling away, the Sunderland striker munched on his late-night fried chicken fix, and sped off into the night. Covered in chicken grease and regret, I discovered how petty and small I was. At the end of the day, he was just a hungry human looking for a below par and low quality, cheap meal, what’s wrong with that?

All I can say is that I slept that night knowing that at least if I lived in a world where I was earning around £50,000 a week, I wouldn’t double check the change I had been given for some fried chicken after paying with a £50 note.

Continued, tired rhetoric

I wrote an article after the Arsenal game, setting out how some pundits are bringing this narrative of Rafa v Steve. Essentially, I set out that though we as fans can compare managers against each other, it is a pointless exercise and this season the majority of fans are not doing that anymore. Darren however, has not had time to read my article.

The pressure is building on Steve Bruce now as results have been poor and performances worse. The quality of management in terms of team selection, tactical approach and tactical intelligence.

As I said in my article, I didn’t love Rafa’s tactics. The football after we got promoted was dull and defensive, but you had faith because of his CV, that he knew what he was doing. This in all fairness is something Darren Bent said at the start of his commentary. We were lucky to have him and were in awe of his CV.

He had won the Champions League, Europa League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup, two La Liga titles and the Coppa Italiana. As CVs go, he was the most qualified manager we have ever had. This CV, based on my research and memory, was made using the tactics of defensive solidity and precise, detailed preparation. Remember on the left-hand side for Liverpool in the 2005 final, he played Traore at LB and Riise at LM. We knew.

Steven Gerrard described Rafa as cold and that he would not consider him a friend. Peter Crouch speaks a lot about how detailed Rafa would be in his preparation for games and that even when he played well, if he didn’t play the system Rafa wanted, he would be criticised by the Spaniard.

Fundamentally though, everyone that played for Rafa says his tactical preparations were incredible and he was very detailed in those preparations. He knew what he was doing and what he did had been proven time and time again to work. Yes, some clubs it didn’t work out, but since 2001, he has only not lifted a trophy at three of the eight clubs he has managed. I am including the Championship trophy for those who are interested.

Steve Bruce has got two teams promoted via the playoffs and has the lowest win percentage for managers with over 200 games in Premier League history. That’s why we don’t trust him.

Darren raised a number of points regarding Steve’s appointment and how he believes that some fans have never got behind him and that because he used to manage Sunderland that we will never accept him. For some fans, this is probably true. Personally I didn’t support the appointment, but it wasn’t personal against Steve as a person. It was based on his CV and because of this he had to earn my trust and belief that he could deliver something. I didn’t then and I don’t now.

Even after the 11 game winless streak Rafa had at the start of the 2018/2019 season, we felt that he could turn it round. Steve did have a poor start last season and turned it round so that we were not in trouble towards the end of the season.
But we are in a poor run now.

We have a manager who seems devoid of ideas, despite the fact he has better players than he did last season. There are issues that he has to deal with. COVID and the takeover uncertainty doesn’t make his job any easier, but fundamentally the players do not seem to be playing for him. He seems frustrated at being manager and is statistically producing worse football than Rafa, as proved by Sky Sports on Monday night.

But Darren Bent doesn’t seem to see this.

He doesn’t seem to understand that we aren’t comparing the two.

We as Newcastle fans are looking at the 11 players sent out by our manager doing things his way and not laying a glove on any of our opponents. Maybe because the “gloves are off” or maybe because he is not finding a way with the squad he has to make a system, formation or style of play which suits them.

I want Steve to succeed. I want him to win games in whatever way he can, but I don’t think he knows how. I don’t want to spend months comparing you to Rafa and sleepwalk into relegation, so turn the ship around or walk away.

Darren Bent seems to think we “always go back to Rafa.”

We don’t. Darren just wants to talk about it.

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