Sport Soccer

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Gyan departure leaves a bad taste for Bruce as Blues' composure tells

Sunderland 1, Chelsea 2, Luke Edwards

Nothing hurts quite like a betrayal. The lies, the deceit, the loss of trust, respect and affection. Asamoah Gyan has chosen to leave Sunderland, but he has betrayed Steve Bruce.

The departure of the Ghana international just hours before Sunderland's 2-1 home defeat by Chelsea, initially on a season's loan to Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates, has left a gaping hole in Bruce's squad and a similar-sized one in the heart of the manager who fought so hard to sign him for a club record £13m a little over 12 months ago. Bruce is not naive enough to believe footballers are driven by loyalty. He fully understands ambition, but his definition focuses on the desire to be the best you can be, not money.

They are from different generations, different backgrounds, different worlds even, but Bruce is angry because he cannot understand why Gyan -- a person he liked and a player he admired -- could not only lie to him about wanting to stay at Sunderland, but that he moved, aged just 25, to earn more money playing football in front of a few hundred fans in Abu Dhabi.

"Football leaves a bad taste in your mouth sometimes," said Bruce, whose side are yet to win this season. "I can't understand someone's logic: Africa's player of the year, a hero in his country, to leave the biggest stage in the world to go and play in the Emirates?

"Everybody has got ambitions. If it had been Real Madrid -- and I spat out my porridge the day that was mentioned -- then we'd understand. I can fully understand if people want to go and play for Chelsea or Manchester United and get to the top of the tree in your profession.

"People want to leave for ambition, but it baffles me, that.

"I met him on Thursday, with his agent, and shook his hand. We talked and he said he wanted to stay. Then it transpired that he's talking to this, that and the other and wants to go to the UAE. I don't think I had a choice when someone is adamant he wants to leave."

Sunderland have scored just two goals in five games in all competitions and one of those was an injury-time consolation here.

It was scored by the South Korea international Ji Dong-Wong, a summer arrival along with England U-21 international Connor Wickham, but neither look ready to start in the Premier League. That ensures loan-signing Nicklas Bendtner will have to cope with most of the goalscoring burden and he will have to do better than head wide unmarked from 10 yards, as he did in the first half.

Chelsea's wealth ensures they have no need to worry about losing players to greed or ambition and their performance on Wearside suggests they will offer the stiffest challenge to a Manchester monopoly of silverware this season.

Chelsea were cool, calm and composed. Andre Villa Boas dropped Fernando Torres and never looked like regretting it from the moment John Terry gave them the lead, after Sunderland failed to clear a Juan Mata free-kick which clipped the post.

Chelsea's manager said Nicolas Anelka had played instead of Torres, but it was Daniel Sturridge who shone in his absence. The 22-year-old is maturing nicely and his goal, a cheeky back-heel after out-sprinting Wes Brown, was a lovely moment at the start of the second half. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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