"There's no way Aston Villa are a bigger club than Sunderland," said the BBC Look North reporter, admirably managing to keep a straight face. "We get bigger attendances than Villa and we've won the league the same number of times," said A Love Supreme editor Martyn McFadden, though the first point is debatable and the second is plain wrong: Sunderland were English champions on six occasions, the last time in 1936; Aston Villa have won it seven times, including 1981, which they followed by winning the European Cup (Sunderland's European record consists of four games in 1973). "We're sixth and Villa are relegation-haunted," said McFadden, which, coincidentally, is where Villa have ended the last three seasons and what Sunderland have been in every Premier League campaign this century. McFadden said, "We've got lots of top players". But who? Titus Bramble? Anton Ferdinand? Lee Cattermole?
The truth is Bent was their biggest star in half a century, his one England goal the first scored by a Sunderland player since Len Shackleton's in 1954. Like Rooney before him, he began agitating for a move because he didn't feel financially valued where he was. Call it greed if you will, but that's what players do, and when it comes to their own jobs most football fans would do exactly the same - something the people now sending Bent death threats would do well to bear in mind.
The only way to keep an unhappy player is to pay them more than you think they're worth, and Manchester United may yet live to regret acceding to the demands of Rooney and his agent. Sunderland made a hefty profit on a disaffected player; most people would say they got the better half of the deal.