Steve Bruce hits out at Gerard Houllier over Darren Bent
England striker's £24m switch to relegation-threatened Aston Villa leaves Sunderland boss frustrated
Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has hit out at Gerard Houllier over Darren Bent’s move to Aston Villa.
Bent left the Black Cats for Villa in a £24m deal on Tuesday after the 26-year-old striker handed in a transfer request on Monday.
Bruce revealed his disappointment at losing his prolific forward, who scored 36 times in 63 appearances for Sunderland, and was left furious by the manner in which the deal was done.
“I would have liked even a phone call from Mr Houllier, for whom I did have the utmost respect for what he’s done,” said Bruce.
“I would have thought that, out of respect, maybe he would have picked up the telephone to say, ‘We are interested in buying your striker’. That at least would have given me an opportunity to try to do something about it.
“If you are telling me we gave them permission to speak to him at 8pm on Sunday and it is done and dusted and there’s a press conference by Tuesday, I don’t think we should insult our intelligence.”
The 50-year-old added: “We know in football it happens, we all know what goes on. We are disappointed with somebody of his magnitude, but there you go.”
Bruce also admitted his surprise that the move was ever on the cards and says he did not expect Bent to switch Sunderland for a club eleven places below them in the Premier League.
“If I am being honest, I never, ever saw it coming. I didn’t see it coming,” revealed Bruce, who fought off Fenerbache’s attempts to sign Bent last summer. “When I first heard about it, I just dismissed it and thought, ‘No chance’.
I just dismissed it because I didn’t think they would get to the levels with the money and I didn’t think Darren would want to go there. I honestly, genuinely thought that. But there you go – I was wrong.
“At this particular moment, we as a football club are going to try to play in Europe and Aston Villa are in a relegation battle, so that doesn’t quite make sense.
“You will have to ask Darren on those questions – why, and the timing of it, why he couldn’t have waited three months until the summer and just have a little bit of respect for us?
Bruce added: “But unfortunately, that’s the way football is and it has gone before you know it.”