Ricky Sbragia: I would have quit Sunderland had Kenwyne Jones been sold to Tottenham

06 March 2009 06:24
Sbragia admitted that he would have emulated Roy Keane by resigning had Spurs' £16 million bid for Jones been accepted during the last transfer window.

"I felt that if we'd have lost Kenwyne I thought I may as well have packed my bags and just gone because he would have been a big loss to us," Sbragia said ahead of today's visit of Spurs.

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"There was dialogue, but it was always a no to Spurs from our point of view and the support in the boardroom was rock solid all the time."

Sbragia, who only succeeded Keane in December, added: "We had to keep Kenwyne and I'd love to keep him for the next five or six, seven or eight years, because he's important to us.

"We had to think which way we were going, was it a case of just trying to survive another year, or were we thinking long-term?

"We're thinking long-term now. We have to try and bring in better players and keep our better players and get out of the survival problem we always seem to have when we hit the Premier League."

Jones, 24, signed a new 4½-year contract after snubbing Spurs and, after knee surgery, has played a key role in helping Sunderland climb to safety.

Harry Redknapp insisted last night that he was still friends with Sbragia and would indulge in a glass of wine with him after today's game.

Sbragia claimed Spurs' 'methods' at trying to sign Jones in the transfer window were disappointing.

Redknapp eventually signed Robbie Keane instead, and yesterday the Tottenham manager said: "I'll see Ricky and have a glass of wine with him.

"In truth I think Niall Quinn was quite pleased they got an offer for one of their players. People talk about players all the time, I didn't talk about Kenwyne Jones in public, the chairman dealt with it.

"It's nothing to do with me, he talks to Niall and I never spoke to him or Ricky. The only person who speaks is the chairman and Niall. Deals are only done with chairmen."

Spurs have the chance today to move into the top half of the table, a remarkable achievement given that they had just two points from their opening eight games prior to Redknapp's arrival.

And Redknapp believes one of the players responsible for the revival has emerged as one capable of playing in any team in the world.

Luka Modric cost Spurs £16.5 million but, in recent weeks, has proved that fee to be a bargain, according to Redknapp.

"I think he could play for anyone, he's that good," said Redknapp. "He's a fantastic footballer, amazing player, great brain, not only is he a great footballer, he's strong – he works for the team, takes knocks and gets on with it."

Redknapp revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson admitted last Sunday that Modric had forced him to change tactics during the Carling Cup final.

He added: "Alex said to me after the game last week that he thought Modric was fantastic. He changed how they played because of him. He said, 'I took O'Shea off and changed our system because Modric was causing us so many problems'."


Source: Telegraph