A move in the right direction
On the pitch, Brighton signing Joe Bennett on loan is a clear indication that Paul Lambert is moving away from using players who essentially had to ‘learn on the job’.
Bennett joins the list of other Lambert signings that have been shipped out for this season and beyond – Helenius, Sylla, Tonev, Steer, Luna and Bowery.
With the prospect of Lambert potentially playing with three centre-backs more often this season, Bennett might have been an ok option at left wing-back, as he’s not bad going forward. However, ‘not bad’ shouldn’t be a standard associated with the Villa first team, and it’s good to see Lambert has finally seen the light.
At 24-year-old, Bennett’s loan isn’t a case of being loaned out to come back stronger, his days as a Villa player are effectively over (but after the return of the Bomb Squad, anything is possible).
At £2.75 million, he was actually the most expensive of Villa’s left-back acquisitions under Lambert, but when your manager drafts in three other left-backs (four if you count Kieran Richardson) within two years of signing, you know that your manager doesn’t fancy you anymore.
It didn’t help Bennett that he was having to get to grips with life in the Premiership in a team that had an inexperienced and unsettled backline, and a midfield that was as brittle as sugar glass when it came to covering the back four. Still, Bennett didn’t exactly help the overall situation.
If Sami Hyypia continues Brighton’s possession-based style of recent seasons (if they had a proper striker a couple of seasons ago, they would have probably got promoted to the Premier League), Bennett might flourish on the south coast.
Still, it is always fun to see how optimistic buying managers are when describing their new signings to fans despite what the selling fans think…
Hyypia said: “He [Bennett] is a dynamic left-back who’s very comfortable on the ball. He’s very mobile and will suit the way we want to play.
“He is a good footballer, who knows how to use the ball and I hope he will be a very good player for us.”
Well, good luck with that.
Bennett made 37 appearances for Villa and we wish him the best for the future. We’ll always remember #askBennett