FANS and former players have reacted with shock at the news Darren Bent is set to leave the club.
The club’s star striker put in a transfer request hours after the 143rd clash between Sunderland and Newcastle that saw the clubs share the spoils.
Early reports suggest the striker’s relationship with the club wobbled in the summer when the player asked to leave. He was persuaded to stay but has now asked again to go.
Reports suggest Sunderland will not let him leave for anything less than £24million.
FA Cup winner Micky Horswill said he was surprised by the move.
He said: “It’s a massive surprise. I’m a little bit angry about it, to be honest.
“This has not happened overnight. He has known about it going into the derby match and not told anybody.
“So he was not in the right frame of mind to play. It’s unbelievable.”
The Real Radio North East pundit added: “He’s been telling us how he loves the North East and doesn’t want to play anywhere else, yet he’s leaving a club fighting for Europe for one fighting relegation.
“It doesn’t make any sense, especially when we’ve looked after him as well.
“Unless he’s fallen out with Steve Bruce or something like that, it’s just pure greed.”
And former SAFC defender Micky Gray Tweeted on the subject.
He said: “£18million! I like Bent, but for that kind of money I would snap their hands off. If he is unhappy we should let him go.”
Fan and author Malcolm Robinson, who is preparing to launch a new SAFC magazine – seventy3 – echoed the views of those who felt Bent had been off form for months, and may not be such a huge loss.
“If we can get Downing and Ireland as part of the deal I would be pleased.
“We’ve already got Gyan and Welbeck, and Frazier Campbell in reserve, as replacements.”
Former radio match commentator Simon Crabtree, wrote on social networking website Twitter: “If DB does go to Villa, I’d be massively disappointed in his lack of ambition.
“Easier to stomach if moving to further his career. But with potentially European football at SoL, the stench of greed nauseates.”
Bent himself was notorious for commenting via Twitter, and many supporters used it to send him messages directly yesterday.
Ian Thomas said: “Come on. Tell us what’s going on. Surely you owe us that much?”
Charlotte Nash said: “We’ve treated you well. Why do you want to leave? I’m heartbroken. This is mad.”
Sasha Smith said: “The day after derby day. Could you have picked a worse time?”
And Simon Burton wrote: “Ha’way then. Let’s have the truth. I think you need to act fast and tell the fans who adored you why you’re leaving.”
Steffan White asked: “What are young doing? Is it money? Or have you been lying about loving SAFC all along?”
However, John Smith said: “Even if Darren Bent has handed in a transfer request I still love him, and always will. Legend”