Following a quick exchange on Twitter (“Bent should be starting”, “No he shouldn’t”) I thought I would check again for evidence. Here is that evidence.
Darren Bent has been involved with 38 league games in the last two seasons, playing for both Fulham and Aston Villa.
He played all 90 minutes in 12 games
He started 6 games and was taken off in the second half (so in 1/3 of his starts).
He has appeared as a sub in 20 of those games.
In these 38 games he has scored 6 times.
Two of those goals came in the games when he started.
So in 1521 minutes as a starter he’s scored two goals. That’s one every 760 minutes, or every eight and a half games.
In 398 minutes as a sub he’s scored four times. That’s one every 100 minutes.
In conclusion, he’s not exactly pulling up trees but is more likely to pull up a tree as a substitute. Using him as a starter is tantamount to playing with 10 men as he doesn’t add much to the team’s overall play.
This is why he’s not getting minutes.
There was a follow on Twitter discussion that Fulham are preparing for the Championship, hence the likes of Bent not playing. I think this is nonsense, and that we’re actually fielding our strongest available team now. This includes young players. Far better to try a hungry and able 18 year old than someone who has proven in the last season that he’s no longer capable of contributing at this level. I can’t think of a single player who’s missing out on first team minutes at the moment who deserves to be out there. I really can’t.