Bent gets that loving feeling from Sunderland
HAVING had to endure what he claims were the worst two years of his life at Tottenham, Darren Bent is looking forward to finally being appreciated again after becoming Sunderlands record signing. Bent was paraded at the Academy of Light training ground yesterday after completing a move from White Hart Lane that could rise from an initial £10m to £16.5m depending on his success. It brought an end to a long pursuit of the Cambridgeborn striker, with Sunderlands interest in the player even dating back as far as Mick McCarthys days in charge. While Bent was reluctant to move to Wearside four years ago when he opted for Charlton instead of the Stadium of Light, the 25-year-old has been hoping for a move to the North-East for the last six months. The England international, thinking the switch will propel him back into Fabio Capellos World Cup plans, has felt unwanted at Tottenham ever since Martin Jol departed just four months after he joined in a £16.5m deal from Charlton. My career stood still at Tottenham, I scored a lot of goals but it was the hardest two years of my life, said Bent. I never actually felt wanted. I didnt feel he (Harry Redknapp) wanted me to be there. Theres nothing worse than being a striker and seeing your club linked with every other striker. I have left all of that behind. The chapter has closed and now Im at Sunderland. It is definitely a weight off my shoulders that Im finally here. There have been periods when I was not sure it would happen but now it has I just thank everyone around me who has made it possible. If Bent needed any further indication that his days at Tottenham were numbered it was shortly after Redknapp had taken over, when his manager claimed he showed worse finishing than his wife Sandra. Redknapps comments were made after the former Ipswich striker missed a late chance in the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth in January yet he still went on to finish as Tottenhams leading scorer last season with 17 goals. But in Steve Bruce, who has now made four new signings since taking over earlier in the summer, Bent is satisfied he has a manager with a different approach to man-management. He was, though, also influenced by the clubs supporters, having been inundated with requests from fans after he outlined on social networking site Twitter that he wanted to head to Sunderland rather than Stoke and Hull. Steve Bruce was a big factor, but so to was the passion of the football club, the fans and the place in general is fantastic, said Bent. When I first heard about Sunderland I had around 2,000 requests from Sunderland fans in three days wanting to be my friend on Twitter. It was insane but now Im here I just want to get going. He added: Its massive (to have the support of your manager). Its not been the case for the last two years. Theres nothing better. Even when you have missed a chance and your manager comes out and supports you rather than criticises you, thats going to help two-fold. Strikers dont mean to miss chances but it happens. Bent, who scored 12 times in the Premier League last season, was also targeted by Newcastle during Sir Bobby Robsons days in charge and he admits that moving to the North-East was easy for him this time around. He said: It was massive that Sunderland chased me for a long time. Theres not a better feeling than feeling wanted by a club and its quite strange to have that feeling again because it has been the opposite for the last two years. Sunderland have gone up a level looking from the outside. You have Niall Quinn, they got Roy Keane and now they have Steve Bruce. They are looking to go in the right direction. They want to make big strides and theres no telling how far they can take this club. The potential is fantastic. I have always been aware of Sunderlands interest, certainly in the last six or seven months when it has got quite close. Better late than never. With Bents signature sealed, Bruce has spent an initial £18.5m on four new players, with more expected to follow. He has been credited with interest in England goalkeeper David James, while keeping an eye on Richard Dunne and Lee Cattermole.
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