Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bent Over?

Darren Bent won't be joining West Ham after all. The clubs agreed a fee (believed to be £16m) but the player failed to agree personal terms. Given that West Ham are throwing money around like a council estate lottery winner, it is hard to believe wages were the issue. Perhaps he didn't fancy working under Curbs again? Or more likely, he probably looked at the quality of the players around him and concluded he could do better than midtable mediocrity.

Which therefore begs the question, are any clubs still interested and more importantly, are they able to meet the rather lofty valuation Charlton have placed on him? Spurs are clearly one possible bidder, but they won't pay silly money and understandably so, with Keane, Defoe, Mido and Berbatov already in place.

The 'big four' will probably fancy a player with European experience, particularly at that valuation, which probably only leaves perhaps Villa or Newcastle as a potential bidder, especially if Michael Owen's future lies elsewhere.

But therein lies the problem with Charlton's position. They are correct not to be giving him away Robert Lee-style, whilst the Ipswich share of the profits also leads to an inflated valuation (though this structural headache is an irrelevance to the buying club).

However, excellent footballer that he is, eventually his valuation reaches a 'tipping point' (perhaps £10-12m?) whereby only desperate (but rich) clubs will match it. If the player understandably has no desire to join a desperate club with grand ambitions (but little chance of achieving them), then in the absence of force, the valuation becomes a chimera.

Peter Varney has claimed this evening that, "We therefore look forward to Darren starting with us in the Championship next season, which is a massive boost to our chances of returning to the Premier League", but his credibility requires some rebuilding, and I'm inclined not to believe him.

There are two bad scenarios that we risk facing:

1. The 'Parker/Murphy' scenario: Bent and his agent suddenly push for a late transfer, and the club realising an unhappy player is of little value to us, are obliged to accept a lowball offer (perhaps £8-10m?). He seems the level-headed humble sort, but who has ever described an agent thus?

2. The disappointing season scenario: Bent stays but either through injury, lack of form or the inadequacies of his teammates (again), we fail to win promotion. Retaining the player at this point would become a financial impossibility, and you could slash his current valuation in half or more (David Nugent is only expected to generate £6m for Preston for example).

By anchoring ourselves to a £16m valuation, we may have decimated the list of potential interested bidders. His valuation is fluid, and whilst not quite 'forced sellers', we are certainly 'interested sellers.' Contemplating a lower bid is not capitulation; it's negotiation.

Of course the scenario we would all love to see played out, is a free-scoring Bent leading us back to the Premiership but football, like love never did run smooth. The stakes are simply too high to allow obstinance to forgo the chance to obtain a valuation that is perhaps not outstanding, but is nonetheless fair.


At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Simon said...

Interesting that you have already concluded that West Ham will be nothing more than 'mid table mediocrity'. I think you are failing to see the slow sea change at Upton Park. The consoritum running the club are very ambitious and have a 5 year plan of Champions League football for us. We've had a tumultuous season, capped by the reactionary response of the 'gang of four' who decided that the equivalent of a £50million fine was a measured response to a an illegal clause in a contract.

With that behind us, we are starting to build a significant squad and with quality players such as Scott Parker and Lucas Neill being added to strength of players such as Robert Green and Yossi Benayoun, I can assure you that Middlesbrough/Fulham we are not.

I don't udnerstand why Bent has pulled out but unless he really hates West Ham or Curbishley, it simply seems to be an ill-advised decision. However, if it is becuase he, like you, thinks we are a club going nowhere, it's not just ill-advised, it is simply wrong.

At 12:47 PM, Blogger Blackheath Addicted said...

Blimey, we thought that sometimes we have delusions of grandeur. West Ham under the new owners may indeed have a plan for Champions League football within five years. I have a plan that sees Charlton win the Champions League in three. Only problem is turning it into a reality when at the same time Spurs, Villa, Newcastle and others have their own plans to break into the top four - and surprisingly enough the top four have plans of their own to stay there.

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Simon said...

Nice response Blackheath, but I will say this. Firstly, when you look at the 'top four' let's take a real look at them;

Man Utd - okay, long reign at the top and untouchable under Fergie, but will he still be there in 5 years? When Fergie goes, there will be a massive cultural change at Old Trafford that will take some adjusting to.

Arsenal - again Wenger is a great manager but without Henry how invincible are they? I was at the Emirates when we beat them and altjough they peppered our goal, the lack of a qulaity finisher outside of Henry was very apparent. If he goes, and I think he may do, again some real adjustment but let's agree that they a re a good side.

Liverpool - frankly, one of the most over-rated sides in the league for me, living off past glories and the workrate of Steven Gerrard. Are Dirk Kuyt and Peter Crouch the signs of an unbeatable team? No. Have their sights set on European glory and taken their eyes off the domestic ball. A jigsaw team where the pieces don't really fit together.

Chelsea - where were they 5 years ago?

I say all this with due respect to the teams above, but for me their dominance (with possible exception of Man Utd) is due to the paucity of the league rather than such an unachievable level of football. What I am saying is that a club only needs to raise its game a few notches in order to compete with that and that West Ham have the plans and infrastructure in palce to do such a thing. Villa? Yeah, really scared of them. Newcastle? A sleeping giant with too much expectation which will continue to burden them. The fans have no patience and Allardyce will be udner serious pressure sooner than he could imagine. Spurs? I don't really care, I just hate them.

So tell me, have I said anything you completely disagree with?

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if Simon thought he would be watching his team in the Champions League this season after the signings last summer?

There seems little point for Bent to waste 2 years at Tottenham's feeder club when he can get a move to a big club straight away.

At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Simon said...

No 'Anonymous' I did not expect Champions League, but nor did I expect FA Cup Finalists the previous season, which was more than your 'big club' achieved. I think you may find the days of the feeder club are over, besides, you only go and ruin them Jermaine Defoe....PS Funny that Spurs fans are always anonymous isn't it?

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Mobile Addick said...

sorry simon, but you seem a little disillusioned. with regard to your 'analysis' of the 'big four' i think it was more a case of a west ham fan's ideal scenario and a bit of wishful thinking. Liverpool are a team that has a solid backbone and a team that has reached 2 champions league finals in 3 years and been in the 'big 4' as long as i care to remember. arsenal, quite simply, are going through a blip and a period of uncertainty, but still have the players and the manager to guide them out of it. im not even going to start on your evaluations of man utd and chelski, simply humourous. the point is, darren bent is a top top player. he could easily fit into the arsenal amd liverpool forward line, and probably knows it. he could too easly fit into west ham's, newcastle's, and spurs strike forces, but the 'culture' you talk about happening at man utd, happened at spurs and is now happening at your club; a sense of disillusion and hype all of a sudden because your club as money. newcastle have spent big (parker, martins, owen, klivert...the list goes on) spurs have bought big (too many names over the last 10 years to mention...bit stefan iverson will do) and now the bubbles are spening big. you cant buy your way to the top without the neccessary back bone and foundations of a club to support it. you impatient, flippent, and (i'll say it again) disillusioned club will more than likely crash and burn again, and i think darren could see that. unlucky

At 11:07 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

I'll say two words.... Leeds United

At 12:57 AM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

Money does not buy a good team. Leeds, Newcastle and Middlesborough are prime examples. If Bent is going, he may well go to Arsenal,the best footballing side in the UK, who just happen to need a great striker. You heard it second here.

At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Simon said...

Hi Mobile

I have no 'disillusions' (not quite sure that is the right word but let's not worry) and I would have felt the same about the top four whether West Ham were in the fizzy pop or the Premier League next season. Nor does your memory stretch back that long as in May 2003, Liverpool did in fact finish outisde of the big four and indeed Chelsea did not start to feature in the big four regularly until that same season.

I simply do not believe that the 'big four' are as inepenetrable as everyone else makes out and it reflects more on the paucity of the league than their super standards. I'll re-iterate that a team that almost got relegated did the double over both Arsenal and Manchester United, does that seem so inpenetrable to you? Nor am I saying West Ham are suddenly a 'big club', merely we have the potential to do so (though arguably anyone has that) but with a couple of players already purchased, our potential is closer than alot of others.

As to our club being impatient and flippant, I think you will find we did not have to bribe everyone to buy season tickets in order to guarantee 20,000+ when we were in the fizzy pop and if you want flippancy, look at Sheffield United who are seeking to bring down our game into a bureaucratic mess despite having 'bent the rules a bit' themselves.


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