SUNDERLAND manager Steve Bruce insists the Black Cats were not guilty of unsettling Lee Cattermole ahead of his £6m move from Wigan to the Stadium of Light.
Latics counterpart Roberto Martinez suggested the England Under-21 midfielder had become unsettled by uncertainty over his future after Sunderland declared their interest.
But former Wigan boss Bruce, who took 21-year-old Cattermole to the club a year ago when he moved from Middlesbrough in a £3.5m deal, is adamant Sunderland conducted themselves properly in their pursuit of the tough-tackling Teessider.
Bruce said: "It was no secret that we'd put in a bid three or four weeks ago and, contrary to reports that we'd unsettled Lee, I was encouraged after speaking to Roberto.
"He didn't dismiss it totally if we could get to the right sort of figure. There was always an element that gave me food for thought that it could be done.
"Roberto wants to add a few players of his own and he obviously used the situation to get some money in for players, which is fair enough and something all managers do.
"I have huge respect for the chairman, Dave Whelan, and everybody at Wigan and the last thing I wanted to do was go back there and disrupt anything.
"Once I got encouragement, I pursued it and didn't let it go. A couple of weeks ago I think Roberto had changed his mind and wanted to keep Lee.
"But then it was ongoing and, in the end, we got to the finish. We're just delighted that we've been able to bring the boy here.
"I try to treat every manager with respect. We know it's difficult these days, but as managers I always think we should call the manager first.
"I made the call to Roberto six weeks ago and I was encouraged that he might use the money to go and strengthen his team. Once I heard that, I thought, 'Let's see what develops'."
Bruce, who has now splashed out close to £25m on five signings - Cattermole, strikers Darren Bent and Fraizer Campbell, midfielder Lorik Cana and defender Paulo Da Silva - since taking charge in June, admitted: "The phone bill is astronomical and Im dizzy with it!
"I'm delighted with what we've done. Now I just have to make it work and hope that they can gel."
Paraguay defender Da Silva, signed on a free transfer from Mexican side Toluca, has finally been granted a visa and will link up with the squad before Saturday's Premier League opener at Bolton.
Bruce said: "We seem to have forgotten about him.
He was my first signing and we thought it was plain sailing but then we had to send him to get his visa stamped.
"He's been holed up in Mexico for 19 days, but he's got his visa now so we'll welcome him."
Bruce faces a return to familiar territory when Sunderland visit League One outfit Norwich in the second round of the Carling Cup on Monday week.
He spent three years at Carrow Road before joining Manchester United in 1987, and was at the heart of the Canaries defence when they beat Sunderland in the 1985 Milk Cup final at Wembley.
He said: "Norwich are one of my old clubs. We couldn't have asked for anything farther away and it's now a Monday night live on TV.
"We'll be doing our utmost to go as far as we can in the cup competitions and I'll be putting out a team to try to win that match."