Bent hails Royle's influence

MUCH-IMPROVED Marcus Bent has described Blues boss Joe Royle as 'one of the best managers he has ever had' and a big factor in his return to top form, writes Derek Davis.

MUCH-IMPROVED Marcus Bent has described Blues boss Joe Royle as 'one of the best managers he has ever had' and a big factor in his return to top form, writes Derek Davis.

Bent has struggled with injuries this season which have affected his form, but he has also made great strides in improving his all-round game on top of getting back to top fitness.

Five goals in six games points to a man back to his best thanks to his own hard work and a lot of help from one of the 10 managers he has worked under.

He said: "Joe is right up there. I love Neil Warnock as a manager. I know a lot of people don't like him but he told you as it was. He knew when to shout and when not to. He was a great man-manager. Graeme Souness was a great coach, perhaps not quite the same as a man manager. But Joe is right up there, he has been brilliant for me."

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Bent's hard-working, yet intelligent running up front of late have been a welcome improvement in his game and he admits it is something he has made an conscious effort to adopt.

His improved work-rate has been a factor in Town's run of results and it was noticeable as he and Pablo Counago slowed at Rotherham, the team dipped.

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He said: "My performances over the season have not been as good as I would like them to be. It has been a stop-start season with injuries.

"The goals are now going in which is great that is what we are paid for.

"I'm not one to run around like a headless chicken because I'm there to score goals, that is what I'm judged on.

"I know in the past I may not have worked as much as I should have but I have looked at myself and I know I have not been consistent. To get my confidence back I knew I to focus on one thing and for me that was about working hard.

"I was scoring goals but it was not really until the Coventry game that I thought my game was back. I was doing everything I wanted to do, making the right angled runs, not losing the ball in silly ways, getting shots on target – that wasn't me before.

"It may be a bit late for this season but it is something I can take into next season. I'm still relatively young and still learning and I I'm taking things on board.

"The Gaffer has come in and been brilliant. He helps me by talking to me as a person, teaching me the good ways getting rid of the bad things. It has been a steep learning curve this season but it has been good for my personal development."

Bent would dearly love to finish the season on a high, but insists it is about results – not performances.

He said: "Wimbledon have been inconsistent but they have a good bunch of lads there and a good forward line with David Connelly and Neil Shipperley and the young African forward Patrick Agyemang is a good prospect.

"They are a strong outfit and we will not underestimate them. They are one of the lesser sides, no disrespect to them but we have to take the three points.

"It is the last home game and I would love it if we could tonk Wimbledon 6-0. It would be great to make the fans happy with a great performance but I would rather take the three points even if it is the worst game in the world. It is about getting three points and Forest and Reading losing."

Town have a ghost of a chance and while everyone is being realistic nobody is giving up the fight just yet.

Bent said: "Mathematically we can still do it but Forest are a very good side and you can't really seeing them losing their last two games. But as they say the fat lady is not singing yet and we are staying positive and hoping they lose against Millwall and we win so it goes down to the final game."

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