STEVE BRUCE was dismissive of the suggestion that Sunderland were missing Darren Bent in the wake of their second defeat in the three games since the £24million striker left.
Not only was Bruce dismissive after Saturday’s 3-2 reverse at Stoke, he was perplexed by the line of questioning in the first place.
“We’ve scored six goals in three games,” he said, brow furrowing in confusion. “So no-one can tell me we’re missing Darren Bent.
“The goal end of the pitch isn’t a problem for us, it’s the defending.
“We’re giving bad goals away.
“I don’t think we need worry about a goal threat, especially since the arrival of Stephane Sessegnon and Sulley Muntari.
“Muntari and Asamoah Gyan are international team-mates and Sulley looks for Gyan straight away when he gets on the ball – his pass for Asamoah’s goal was a great pass.
“He’s got quality and he’ll be be a big player for us.
“He hasn’t played for some time, but he’s going to get that much better and I think both the new lads will be a success here.
“I think the most important thing when you’re managing different nationalities and cultures at your clubs is that you have to understand and appreciate the differences between them and you and not try to impose one set of rules.
“We appreciate that as coaching staff and if you handle them well you get an awful lot out of them.”
While Bruce was pleased with his attack, he was more concerned about events at the other end of the pitch where two offside goals were allowed to stand as Stoke twice rallied from behind to snatch a dramatic victory.
“We practice set-pieces and look for offsides, but there’s no point in doing that if you’re not going to get help from the officials,” he said.
“There’s no debate about the offside for the first goal because he is offside.
“I thought the referee didn’t handle the game well, but the keeper and defenders need to be stronger, too.
“The two officials should do better than that, but the first goal the keeper should do better than he does and that’s how I look at it.
“I know City are big and strong and powerful, but we expect to be bigger than that.
“We needed to be physically ready for the challenge, which is why we played three centre-halves and we should have done a lot better on the day.”