Bruce accuses Bent of betraying Sunderland

Manager says £24m striker failed to give his all in build-up to Aston Villa move

The Sunderland manager Steve Bruce last night launched a stinging attack on his departing striker Darren Bent, accusing the player of deliberately not giving his best for the club and betraying the Sunderland fans over his £24m move to Aston Villa.

Bruce's relationship with Bent is known to have been problematic even before the past few days' dramatic developments and yesterday the gloves were taken off when the deal finally went through at 5pm after delays relating to the £6m sell-on fee owed by Sunderland to Bent's former club Tottenham Hotspur.

Sunderland believe that Bent has been angling for a move since an offer for him from Fenerbahce, the Turkish club, was rejected in the summer. As for Bent, who signed a four-and-a-half-year contract worth around £80,000 a week, he is understood to be angry that Sunderland were so hasty on Monday in making public his transfer request.

A club record signing for Villa, Bent, 26, is expected to make his debut against Manchester City on Saturday. Bruce said: "It's hugely disappointing that Darren has decided that his future lies away from Sunderland and the players, our supporters and the club as a whole have every right to feel massively let down.

"The timing is especially hard to take, given that we are progressing positively and are in a great position to push on. Everyone has been nothing but supportive of Darren in his time at Sunderland but it's obvious he's not been himself in training and we've certainly not seen the best of him in games in recent weeks – and we now understand why.

"I've always stated that my aim is to build a talented, young squad for the long term to help the club achieve sustained success and I want Sunderland fans to know that our ambitions haven't changed on that front."

It is understood that Tottenham are now due a total of around £6m from Sunderland for Bent which – including the original £10m fee when he left Spurs in July 2009 that has now been paid in full – means that Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will recoup all the £16m he spent on Bent when he signed the player from Charlton Athletic in 2007.

Despite losing a sizeable amount on the sell-on clause, keeping Bent was never really a viable option for Sunderland once the details of the proposed deal had become public and the acrimony between him and Bruce became evident.

The Sunderland chairman, Niall Quinn, said that Sunderland had been left with little time to find a replacement. He said: "Darren has now left the club and it's important we move on quickly. We've worked hard in the last 36 hours to get what we feel is a fair price for him.

"Of course it presents us with significant challenges from a football perspective which we didn't envisage, but we'll deal with it and are working hard to find a solution both in the short term and more importantly the longer term."

There is dismay at Sunderland that Bent would swap the 17th placed club in the Premier League for a relegation battle. The player himself denied that he had made the move for money. "Everyone has got different opinions as to why I've come to Aston Villa," he said. "I've showed in the past, when I could have gone to West Ham for a lot more money but I chose Spurs [I've moved] for footballing reasons."

"I've done the same here. I had a good time at Sunderland but I believe that time's over and I'm at Aston Villa now and I just can't wait to get going. With Stewart Downing, Ashley Young, there's a fantastic supply line. It's just up to me to work on my finishing and try to put the chances away."

While Villa waited on the completion of the Bent deal, they have reconciled themselves to selling Ashley Young in the summer, with Manchester United emerging as his most likely destination.

The bold move for Bent has demonstrated Randy Lerner's faith in manager Gérard Houllier but the fee is expected to be recouped by the sale of Young at the end of the season. The England international's deal runs out in the summer of 2012 and he has told the club that he will not sign another one.

Although Young, 25, will have only 12 months to run on his contract come June, the club expect him to command a fee of around £20m that reflects his status as one of the best young players in England. While he has been linked with Liverpool and Chelsea in the past, Sir Alex Ferguson is understood to be keen that United make serious moves to sign Young.

Houllier said yesterday that Young and Stewart Downing would not be allowed to leave this month but did not rule out a deal for either in the summer. "They're not for sale – simple as that," Houllier said. "Stewart and Ashley won't be leaving. No, not at all. They are rumours.

"I think we have got a good squad and we will hopefully escape relegation," he added. "I don't think we were particularly lucky until now but every player who has come in will contribute to the success of the club. If you buy a player of [Bent's] calibre that means the chairman is backing you – financially and also I would say from a footballing point of view. I think his arrival is a major coup for the club."

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?