Houllier slams 'ungracious' Bruce

LONDON - Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier said Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was "not too gracious" on Friday and denied accusations he had shown a lack of respect when he signed striker Darren Bent this week.

Bruce had said on Thursday that he had been disappointed to not even get a phone call from the Villa manager expressing an interest in signing the England striker, who joined the Midlands club in a 18 million pound move on Tuesday.

GEAR: Save 10% on Aston Villa shirts courtesy of Kitbag. Free delivery on orders over £50

Houllier said his club had done things "the right way" and that he had been kept informed about negotiations between Villa chief executive Paul Faulkner and Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn.

"I was surprised by some of the declarations, I thought that some people were not telling the truth, whether they wanted to protect themselves or the fans I don't know," Frenchman Houllier told a news conference.

"What I can say is we are happy to have the player, they had the right to say 'no' at every minute but in fact, they just wanted the player for a certain bid.

"We have done things extremely right, properly, the right way."

Bent's fee was a club record for relegation-threatened Villa and the England striker signed a four-and-a-half year deal the day after Sunderland confirmed he had handed in a written transfer request.

Bruce had spoken on Thursday of Houllier being his "big disappointment" and that he would have expected him to "have the decency to pick up the phone".

Houllier said he was not going to start ringing Bruce now but that he would not hold the episode against him.

"I have not spoken to Steve - and I won't. I may have a drink after the games. I am not bearing grudges," Houllier said.

"It makes me laugh more than anything else, I like Steve Bruce - I think he was maybe not too gracious to me but that's life. It is not going to prevent me from sleeping at night."