Bent out to prove point to Spurs critics
DARREN Bent has described the criticism he received at Tottenham last season as ridiculous, and claimed the warmth of his reception at Sunderland stands in marked contrast to the lukewarm response that accompanied his move to White Hart Lane. Bent will make his first return to Spurs as a Sunderland player today, three months after completing a £10m move that saw him become the Black Cats' record signing. The England international has flourished at the Stadium of Light, scoring eight goals in 11 league matches to silence the critics who had questioned his ability following a two-year spell in north London. A number of those critics were Tottenham supporters, and as he prepares to face a hostile reception Bent has challenged the view that he failed at White Hart Lane. It has been fantastic moving to Sunderland, said the Premier League's leading English goalscorer. Being at Spurs, I was on a downer. People were criticising me left, right and centre, which in my eyes was ridiculous. I scored 17 goals last season, which made me their top goalscorer, and people were still criticising me and speculating about my role. Every time someone said something negative about me, I used to take it to heart. But after two years of being criticised, it doesn't faze me. The criticism Bent received at White Hart Lane could hardly be more different from the adulation that has been heaped upon the striker since he moved north to the Stadium of Light back in August. As a keen devotee of the internet social networking site Twitter, Bent was able to read thousands of messages of support in the weeks leading up to his transfer, and the level of praise has only increased in the opening three months of the season. When I came to Sunderland, I had thousands of people on my twitter page saying, We want you here', he said. I just wanted to get up here and play for these people. Before, when I went to Spurs, I had people writing stuff like, We don't need him here and don't want him here'. I was fighting an uphill battle before I went. I think it's the faith the fans have shown in me that makes me want to go the extra mile. It is about being given a chance. I have come here after a hard two years and the fans have welcomed me like nothing has happened. Because they have got behind me, I have managed to get goals and work hard for them. Harry Redknapp has warned his Spurs players to expect a Bent backlash this afternoon, but the Tottenham boss claims the striker's departure from White Hart Lane was inevitable once Peter Crouch became available in the summer. Bent and Redknapp's relationship became damaged when the latter claimed his wife could have scored from a headed opportunity against Portsmouth that the former failed to convert. Today's game provides Sunderland's No 11 with an opportunity to prove his former manager wrong, and while Redknapp insists there is nothing personal between the pair, the Spurs boss admits his side will come up against a striker with more reason to score than most. He's a striker I feel is always likely to score, but then I feel the same about Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane. I wanted to get Peter Crouch so we had to let someone go. We had a big offer for him, so it was a good move for everyone. No-one disputes that Darren is a good player, a good centre-forward, but he was unlucky here. When Martin Jol was manager he was fourth choice behind (Dimitar) Berbatov, Keane and Defoe, and he didn't play much under Juande Ramos either. Bent might never have left Tottenham had Crouch not chosen the London club above Sunderland in late July. Crouch visited Sunderland's training ground after Portsmouth accepted the Black Cats' offer for the target man, but opted to move to Spurs instead. It was suggested that Crouch was unwilling to uproot to the North-East, but Black Cats boss Steve Bruce feels that is a misrepresentation of the truth. If Spurs hadn't come in for him at the death, I'm convinced he would have come, said Bruce. The people we have wanted to bring here have come Peter Crouch was the only one who didn't, but that had nothing to do with the North-East. He had worked with Harry before.
Related Sunderland News