Aston Villa cast-off Thomas Sorensen took a swipe at his former employers after he was unveiled as a Stoke City player.
The 32-year-old, who could not even make the bench by the end of his final season under Martin O’Neill, signed a three-year deal with the Premier League newcomers and says he can’t wait to prove his doubters wrong.
Intriguingly his first opportunity to play in front of his new supporters comes on August 23 when O’Neill takes Villa to Britannia Stadium. It will register as just another match for the visitors but for Sorensen and his new team-mates it will be a chance to lay both the past to rest and foundations for a bright future.
After finishing runners-up to West Bromwich Albion last season Stoke are favourites for relegation and most commentators believe their first Premier League campaign will be an arduous one.
But Sorensen is determined to defy the odds, starting with a match at Bolton Wanderers on opening day, followed by an emotional reunion with Villa.
“It’s not about one game because we have 38 games to play next season,” he said. “But I have to admit a win against Aston Villa would be a very good moment for me.
“I have fond memories of my time with the club and I am looking forward to coming up against them.”
Those memories, positive in the main, will have been soured by the manner in which his Villa career ended.
Since joining from Sunderland in 2003, the Dane was first choice for all of David O’Leary’s reign and initially under O’Neill.
But the Ulsterman brought Scott Carson on loan to Villa Park at the start of last season and Sorensen also slipped behind Stuart Taylor in the pecking order. He asked to be allowed to leave and did not play at all last term.
In many ways Stoke and their manager Tony Pulis have offered him a lifeline. “It’s a great move for me because I have come to a club which has great ambition,” Sorensen said somewhat pointedly.
“I am very happy to be here and I am extremely grateful to the manager for giving me a chance to play in the Premier League again. I really enjoyed being here for the last two days and I loved everything I saw from the manager and the club, and had no hesitation in signing.
“I have played in this division for a long time but I still feel I have something to prove and that is why I am here. But like I said there are a lot of matches to be played and I truly believe we will stay up.”
Villa, meanwhile, are due to discover the outcome of Brad Guzan’s work permit hearing. The American international was turned down when he tried to join Villa in January but O’Neill is more hopeful this time.
“We’re hoping that, having come so close in January, we can get the work permit this time around,” he said. “I think his situation has improved, certainly on the international scene. He’s been playing a lot of games for America now, important matches. He’s played World Cup qualifying games and he played the second half against England at Wembley. All told I think his position has improved so fingers crossed that might help but who knows?”
If Guzan is successful he will challenge compatriot Brad Friedel and back-up Taylor for the goalkeeping berth.
Whatever happens Villa’s defensive solidity, which looked so suspect in Denmark, has been boosted by the fact Curtis Davies has returned to action.
The former West Bromwich Albion centre-half was expected to be out until September having undergone surgery on an Achilles tendon problem towards the end of last season.
But Davies played for an hour against Notts County on Thursday and expressed his optimism he will be ready for the beginning of the new campaign.
“It was a good game to get 60 minutes in,” Davies said. “I felt I could have played the full 90 but I’ll take it slowly. I’ve been looking at the new shirt for ages and just waiting to pull it on, so it was good to be back out there.”