Bruce blasts back at Capello's Bent Villa jibe
Published 23:00 11/02/11 By Simon Bird
Steve Bruce has branded Fabio Capello "hugely disrespectful" after the England boss claimed Darren Bent was a better player after joining Aston Villa.
The Sunderland boss defended himself yesterday after Capello's claim that Sunderland's tactics hampered Bent, and that he's become a more rounded player since his £18 million transfer.
And Bruce blasted back that Sunderland had REVIVED Bent's career from Spurs reserve to England striker during his goal-laden season and a half at the Stadium of Light when he scored 36 goals in 65 games.
And he pointed out Capello has only visited Wearside once to watch him play in 18 months.
Bruce said: "It is a frustration to us all and it's hugely disrespectful. Darren Bent scored 24 goals for us and had an unbelievable season yet didn't go to the World Cup. I find that a harsh statement."
Capello lauded Bent for his scoring performances at Villa and his England goal in midweek. The England boss said: "I saw two of his games for Aston Villa. From what I saw of him at Sunderland, he is now playing a different style.
"At Sunderland, his manager asked him to stay alone up front, only think about getting into the box and being close to goal so he would be fresh to take the chances. But at Villa he is doing more. He is running and pressing more, because that is what he needs to do for this team.
"If you want to play for the England team you have to be good when you go forward but also when the other team wins the ball off you. When I see him doing this I can see he has improved a lot."
That accusation could prove damaging for Bruce and Sunderland as they try to attract more top quality players.
And Bruce hit back: "He was certainly pressing and doing everything like that last season. I find it difficult to understand, I really do. Bent had a wonderful season for us when we finished 13th and only Drogba and Rooney scored more than him, and he was overlooked. For whatever reason - you would have to ask Mr Capello that.
"But with the Bent situation, it is over and finished as far as we are concerned. Let him get on with his career and see where he ends up.
"I did not ask him to hold back. How can you ask a player to hold back and just stay around the box? I didn't ask him to do that. How can you ask a player to stay around the box in today's modern game. I can't quite understand that. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. I respect them.
"When I first signed Darren Bent he was languishing in Spurs reserves. He was nowhere near the England squad. He propelled himself back into the frame because of what he did for us and in his first season he couldn't have done any more.
"He single-handedly kept us where we were. He had a wonderful season scoring 24 goals. Now all of a sudden because he has played two games for Villa, they are saying he is a new player. I can't quite go along with that. Although Mr Capello is entitled to his opinion like anyone is.
"I think the big problem is not playing for Sunderland, it is the geography. How many times has Mr Capello been to Sunderland or Newcastle for that matter. Chelsea last season, 18 months ago?
"I can understand that because he covers a lot of games to be fair, but he will probably look at his schedule and think if I go to London or Manchester I can do two or three games on the day. If he comes here he can't do that. So it is where we are. Usually international managers watch us away from home and that is difficult for the players.
"As far as accusations go that we are too direct, I watched us against Stoke last week and we were not direct then, nor against Chelsea."