Sunderland boss Steve Bruce has angrily dropped star striker Darren Bent for the foreseeable future – after the burly frontman missed “probably the easiest pot he’ll have all season” in Saturday’s dramatic encounter with 18-times Snooker Champions Liverpool.
The Black Cats’ manager was left fuming as Bent haplessly miscued what should have been “a routine pot”, and screwed the white ball embarrassingly into the middle pocket.
But worse was to follow – as the red ball he was attempting to pot jumped clean off the table in front of massively relieved Liverpool fans, who then taunted him incessantly till the final frame.
The missed sitter will come as a huge blow to Sunderland’s snooker title hopes.
“To be fair to the lad it took a bobble on the baize, but I expect better,” said Bruce after his team’s equivocal performance at the Crucible of Light.
“The blame lies with me, I really should have chalked my boots first,” said a distraught Bent.
“I’ve let the team down, I’ve let the fans down, but most of all I’ve let my trainer Ronnie O’Sullivan down,” he continued, mopping away a barrage of salty tears.
Pepe Reina, meanwhile, staked his claim as Liverpool’s first choice keeper with an assured performance shepherding the red ball safely wide of his pocket.
“Nine times out of ten Darren Bent pockets those with his eyes closed,” said Reina.
“You can imagine my relief when I opened my eyes and realised he’d sunk the white and not the red.”
“If I can continue keeping out the coloured balls like that all season, hopefully it’ll leave United and Chelsea requiring snookers come April,” he concluded optimistically.