Bruce pines for Bent after another loss

Birmingham City 2 Sunderland 0

Three months after his departure, Steve Bruce is still talking about Darren Bent. Saturday's defeat at Birmingham was Sunderland's eighth defeat in ten games since the striker packed his bags and departed for Aston Villa. In that period, the Black Cats have claimed four points and hit the net just nine times. Saturday was their fifth blank in that period and that Bruce is still pining for Bent's goals speaks volumes for the muddle his side are in.

"Up front, we haven't had enough to cope with Bent wanting to leave and [Frazier] Campbell re-injuring himself," Bruce said, bringing up the topic before any of his inquisitors had mentioned it. "It has affected us. We took that calculated gamble in January. With hindsight, it looks very difficult."

Should Bruce and club chairmen Niall Quinn have dug in their heels and forced the striker to stay at the Stadium of Light? "Hindsight about what was done in January is a wonderful thing," replied the manager. "The one thing that was obvious was that Bent wanted to go. There's no good looking back on it, we have to learn from it."

Yet Bruce, evidently, still views the decision with some regret and the only solace for Sunderland right now is that their excellent first half to the season has ensured that the fear of relegation isn't quite as pronounced as it might be. Bruce has predicted that 41 points should be enough to stay up, which for Sunderland means one more victory. Overall, their performance on Saturday was bright enough to suggest they can win at least one of their three remaining home games.

Seb Larsson's persistence on 41 minuites put his side in front after an error by Sunderland's Simon Mignolet, while Craig Gardner's ninth goal of the season from distance on 66 minutes was enough to seal the deal with time to spare.

"We had a bad spell after the [Carling Cup] final," Alex McLeish said. "There was a wee bit of soul-searching and we've had to work hard to get us in the new position we're in. If the players give me what they have given me in the past few weeks in every remaining game, then we will get up the league a bit."

That might allow McLeish the breathing space to re-sign some of the eight players out of contract at the club this summer.

Scorers: B'ham Larsson 41, Gardner 66. Subs: B'ham Hleb (Phillips, 63), Fahey (Larsson, 88), Derbyshire (Jerome, 90). S'land Noble (Welbeck, 70), Malbranque (Colback, 76). Booked: None. Man of the match Larsson. Match rating 6/10. Attempts on target: B'ham 4 S'land 7. Ref P Dowd (Staffs). Att 28,108.



Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future