Houllier laughs off Bruce's outburst over Bent

Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier says he will lose no sleep over Steve Bruce's tirade against him regarding the transfer of Darren Bent – and has accused the Sunderland boss of being ungracious.

Houllier came out all guns blazing in response to Bruce's attack over the way he acted during the sale of Bent to Villa for a club record 18m.

He defended his stance in making no personal contact with Bruce while the transfer was being conducted.

And Houllier is adamant Villa, who host Manchester City today, acted in a proper manner throughout the transaction.

He said: "I like Steve Bruce. I think he is a good manager. He is doing a good job.

"I think he was not too gracious to me but that's life. It is not going to prevent me from sleeping, I can tell you that.

"If we had done something wrong, I would say 'hands up' but we have behaved in a very proper way.

"If I call Steve and say 'I want his player' he will go vocal and go public and it will be even worse.

"He is working for the interests of Sunderland. I am working for the interests of Aston Villa.

"You contact a manager when you want a player on loan sometimes. A lot of fellow managers call me if they want loans.

"This is the life of football. It makes me laugh more than anything else.

"Am I bothered about what he said? I prefer not to answer that question."

Houllier also hit out at Blackpool boss Ian Holloway's comments over Villa's attempts to sign midfielder Charlie Adam.

He said: "It's the same with Ian Holloway. We did things right with Blackpool.

"We went straight to the club, we were quiet, we said nothing and finally it comes out in the press but not from Aston Villa.

"He said we were insulting them. We made a bid, they said no and we respect that.

"But there is no point in being vocal and saying we were insulting them and insulting the player.

"They are insulting us but we don't want to go on about it."

Houllier is still interested in signing Adam after having bids of 2.5m and 3.5m rejected, sums which Holloway found derisory.

He said: "We made no mystery after what was said by Holloway in the press.

"It is true we made a bid and it is true we like the player. It is true we would like to have him here."

Villa's other January signing Jean Makoun has finally been granted a work permit although the former Lyon midfielder will not be involved against City.

He is set to make his debut in Tuesday's rearranged game at Wigan.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has admitted clubs have to pay over the odds if they want to get hold of decent players in January.

The two most expensive purchases of the current transfer window will both be on show at Villa Park today.

It will allow a direct comparison between the Blues' 27m new-comer Edin Dzeko, and Bent, who could ultimately cost Villa 24m.

Spending of that magnitude is one of the reasons why Sir Alex Ferguson is among those who feel there is no value in the transfer market.

The counter argument is that clubs must stump up the going rate if they want to get the players they need and in January, Mancini feels that means coming up with a little bit more.

"I am happy Aston Villa spent that money on Bent. It shows that it is not just Manchester City doing it," Mancini smiled.

"When you want to take a player in January, you must pay more than at the end of the season.

"I don't know how much Aston Villa have paid for Darren Bent and I don't know if we paid the right money for Edin Dzeko.

"But Bent and Dzeko were on the market. Real Madrid are looking for a striker now and they can spend money. But it is difficult."

It could also be argued Villa are paying a premium because of Bent's nationality.

Often, it has been claimed English players cost far more than their continental counterparts.

"Sometimes English players do cost a lot of money," admitted Mancini. "But Darren Bent was an important player for Sunderland. If a big offer comes in for a player like that, it is normal that the other club would sell."

Dzeko's availability compensates for the absence of Mario Balotelli, who scored a hat-trick during Villa's defeat at Eastlands last month.

That game featured a hat-trick that expended little energy from Balotelli, who added a close-range tap-in to two penalties that involved a walk-up before he fired past Brad Friedel.

However, Balotelli has not played since that game and is now in the United States having treatment on a knee injury.