Harty on Darren Bent and West Ham

JUST when you think common sense might have broken out in football, something happens.

With financial meltdown globally and after the problems at Portsmouth and the real possibility that a Premiership club might not even make it to the end of last season, you would have thought that our football clubs would think seriously when it came to cutting their cloths.

That was until this week when Aston Villa decided to pay Sunderland £18million for Darren Bent, not forgetting that the fee could rise to as much as £23million if certain levels are reached.

I don’t blame Sunderland for taking the fee, taking, or snapping Villa’s hand off?

I actually don’t blame the player who, along with his previous moves, has probably ensured his family’s financial future.

His agent has almost certainly also walked away with a nice few quid.

But just a look at Villa. They lost arguably one of the best young managers, Martin O’Neill, at the start of the season because of alleged financial constraints.

In his place they bring in Gerard Houllier – at any time a questionable appointment given his recent track record, and they now find themselves embroiled in a relegation fight.

Is this a panic buy?

Personally, I think it is. With £18 million to spend on a striker, I’m sure there are better options than Bent.

Then again, if he keeps Villa up, will it be money well spent?

The club will argue yes, until the next time they find themselves in the relegation mire.

All that glisters is not gold, or so the saying goes.

The current goings-on at West Ham, and specifically the treatment of current boss Avram Grant, is probably mildly entertaining for fans who don’t follow the Hammers, but this great club is in danger of becoming a laughing stock.

Grant stays, for now, but only because the manager they approached to take over, then had a pang of conscience and pulled out.

There was no doubt that when David Gold and his consortium took over at Upton Park, they had a track record of success at another football club, but clearly it’s not going to be as plain sailing in the East End.

Bizarrely, Gold might have ended up at the Albion, as when he sold his interest in Birmingham he expressed an interest, through a third party, to get involved at Brighton.

In an almost strange chain of events, he ended up as guest on my phone-in twice in a short space of time, clearly making all the right noises, and one wonders if he had been successful was it all part of grand plan to keep Dick Knight as chairman, with him in the background having the controlling interest?

Thankfully, it didn’t pan out that way, as charming a person that he is, I doubt he would have stumped up £93million to build the stadium and put the club on a firm footing, as Tony Bloom has.

I have many friends who are Hammers supporters, but as the two clubs stand now, even being at this moment two leagues apart, I wouldn’t swap places with them now, because if things continue in their current vein, within five years, Brighton could be a bigger club than West Ham.