Bent gives Villa 'extra buzz' but Dzeko fails to hit right notes

Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 0

The tale of the tape appeared pretty conclusive. Darren Bent, who may eventually cost Aston Villa £24m from Sunderland, settled the match with an archetypal, fox-in-the-box goal, while Edin Dzeko, Manchester City's new £27m striker, missed with a late header from his only scoring opportunity.

Bent modestly described his now customary debut flourish – which took him level with Chelsea's Didier Drogba and United's Wayne Rooney on 82 Premier League goals over the past five seasons – as a "tap-in". Two years earlier, after he fluffed an easier chance to win a match for Tottenham, his then manager famously complained that "my missus could've put that one in". Dzeko's chance was perhaps not in the Sandra Redknapp category, yet understandably he comes with great expectations.

If Bent's encapsulation of the tall, elegant Bosnian's performance as "decent" sounded like damning with faint praise, the logic of the match-winner's own compare-and-contrast verdict was fair. "It was always going to be a lot more difficult for him than me because he is new in this division whereas I've played in it a lot," he said. "He has good quality and showed some nice touches but you're always going to struggle against top centre-halves like [James] Collins and [Richard] Dunne."

In fact, forwards have been filling their boots against Gérard Houllier's defence. Although Dzeko demonstrated an impressive work ethic, it often led him into deep positions, making it hard to establish a rapport with Carlos Tevez, who himself started the match playing off the front. As a consequence, City, for all their dominance, created few genuine chances.

Brian Kidd, the former England coach who is Roberto Mancini's assistant at Eastlands, insisted that City would not have to wait until next season to get the best from Dzeko. "I don't think it'll take him many games at all. His touch, passing and control are all excellent and he links the play well. He's been superb in training, he's a team player and his English is very good.

"Obviously, it's a lot different to the Bundesliga. When I was at Portsmouth helping Paul Hart, he raved about Dzeko. Pompey played Wolfsburg in Europe and put a bid in but couldn't afford him. I believe he'll be a very good buy, but there's an adjustment to make to the Premier League and of course it takes time."

Therein lies City's dilemma. Teams need to grow, with new recruits allowed time to assimilate. However, their vast expenditure means every setback is tantamount to a crisis, and every goal conceded or chance spurned becomes a news event. Kidd, who is familiar with such pressures from his stint as No 2 at Old Trafford, denied that he was trying to take the heat off Mancini and his team by claiming the championship was "United's to lose" and that City's target was a top four place. "Not at all. They've been round the block with Sir Alex [Ferguson]. We certainly give them the respect they deserve. They've been there before. With our lads it's a new experience. But once you win something, it becomes intoxicating. You want more of it."

Prising Bent from Sunderland was intended to restore that feeling to the Villa dressing room. The investment reaped a swift dividend for manager Houllier, with the outstanding Collins detecting "an extra buzz about the place, even in the warm-up". The buzz became a cacophony when Bent, having scarcely touched the ball, followed up in anticipation that the City goalkeeper Joe Hart might parry Ashley Young's shot. When he did, an angled finish created an instant Villa cult hero.

Houllier, though, was focused on Bent's impact in the longer term, starting at Wigan tomorrow. "I thought we needed a striker, not only for six months but for the future," he said. "When I was at Liverpool I signed Emile Heskey and it made a difference; we started winning trophies. At Lyons I signed [the Brazilian striker] Fred and he made a difference as we won two titles. I would say Darren has finishing class. He loves the game, works hard and will improve. I looked at him and thought, 'Yes, this is what we need'."

Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice