Sbragia rejects £15m Spurs' bid for Jones

Sunderland manager pours scorn on Tottenham's approach to buying players
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The Independent Online

Tottenham Hotspur have offered Sunderland £15m for the striker Kenwyne Jones, a bid that has been met scornfully at the Stadium of Light. The new Sunderland manager, Ricky Sbragia, was dismissive of the offer, of Tottenham methods – "Spurs do what Spurs do, they seem to be in for everybody and they make sure it goes in the papers" – and said of Jones: "He won't be sold."

Jones' path crossed with Harry Redknapp's when the two were at Southampton five years ago but Sbragia's tone was defiant that the two men would not be reunited this month. He compared Sunderland's stance over Jones to that of Middlesbrough regarding Stewart Downing and a similar offer from Spurs.

"There has been an enquiry," Sbragia said. "It just unrests players. Spurs are after every player in the league, talking £25m, £30m, it's all a bit far-fetched. Kenwyne won't be sold, simple. There has been a light enquiry. I speak to [chairman] Niall [Quinn] three times a day. I don't know how far it is going to go. But he won't be sold. It's a No. And Niall said: 'No-go, wasting their time.'

"We show interest in players but what I don't do is put it in the papers. No matter what club he is at, he is at the club. Tottenham seem to be in for everybody and they make sure it goes in the papers. That's completely wrong. We can all be desperate but we have to keep our house in order.

"Spurs do what Spurs do, it's not the way to do business. It should be in private and I would never leak anything out. It's not right. They unsettled Stewart but he wasn't unsettled on Saturday. He was excellent."

Given that Sunderland paid £6m plus Stern John to Southampton for Jones 18 months ago, the offer is considered by Sunderland to be substantially below the going rate in an inflated market.

Having taken time to return to fitness following his six-month knee injury, Jones has scored five goals in his last six appearances.

But Sbragia and Sunderland know that if a player has his head "turned" by a rival club, then the immediate future can be unpredictable. When at Southampton two years ago, Jones was prepared to go on strike to ensure a move from the club. "I hope Kenwyne follows Stewart's lead and plays well for the rest of the season," Sbragia added.

Downing, Jones, Craig Bellamy and Wigan's Wilson Palacios have all been the subject of public interest from Spurs.

Sbragia yesterday was also displeased with the Hull City manager, Phil Brown, citing Brown's behaviour concerning the Sunderland captain Dean Whitehead as "disrespectful".

Following Hull's FA Cup victory at Newcastle on Wednesday night, Brown revealed in an interview that Hull want to take Whitehead to the KC Stadium. Hull had just received confirmation from Sunderland that they wished to end Paul McShane's loan spell and bring him back to Wearside, as they are entitled to.

"I'm just annoyed that it has come out into the open," Sbragia said. "I spoke to Phil yesterday and asked him if he wanted me to talk to him before the game. He said: 'No, I'd prefer to concentrate on the game.' The next thing he is spelling it out in the press, which I thought was disrespectful. He didn't mention it [Whitehead] at all."

Hull are understood not to have made any formal offer for Whitehead.

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Millions of pounds spent by Spurs on players since January 2007.

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