Sunderland have completed the permanent signing of Danny Graham on a free transfer. Now thirty-five, Graham returns to Wearside on a one-year contract after he was released by Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
The striker will be incredibly eager to forget his dismal previous spell at the club and it is equally important that the supporters give him a clean slate...
Following an accumulation of disappointing performances, Danny Graham was labelled as a Sunderland flop and widely regarded as one of our worst ever signings. That is a rather bold statement, which places him in the same category as the likes of Jozy Altidore and Jack Rodwell. In other words, the hall of shame.
Unfortunately for him, this label was perfectly justified considering he managed to find the net just once in an astounding 37 appearances. Regrettably, Martin O’Neill also paid an extortionate fee of £5 million in order to acquire his signature- it was quite simply a calamitous encounter for both parties.
Seven years since he first signed, Danny Graham returns to the Stadium of Light to wear the red and white stripes once again. At first glance, it is a bizarre transfer that would have been virtually unimaginable when he swapped the North-East for Lancashire back in July 2016.
However, on closer observation it is a logical short-term acquisition, albeit an underwhelming one. Undeniably, League One is a different matter entirely in comparison to the Premier League and so it is unreasonable to use his previous failure as a barrier for his success. In fact, Graham has already triumphed at this level while playing for Carlisle, racking up an impressive total of more than fifty League One goals throughout his career.
In addition, Graham arrives on a free transfer and so the deal coincides perfectly with our current financial situation, given the ongoing rumours of a potential takeover. Even so, many supporters still remain unimpressed and some even angered by Graham’s return, with the striker considered a hopeful last resort by most.
From my perspective, the most notable drawback of his arrival is not in relation to his previous underperformance at Sunderland but more his lack of pace. Especially aged thirty-five, Danny Graham is not going to be the type of player to race past his marker and latch onto a twenty-yard through ball. Consequently, it is important that the team play to his strengths and ensure that he is provided with the service needed to flourish.
Assuming that Phil Parkinson continues with his favoured system, it is also possible that Danny Graham will be utilised from the bench rather than being a consistent starter. Either way, nobody can fault Parkinson’s bravery to show faith in a player surrounded by such controversy.
As supporters, we should avoid throwing our toys out of the pram before Danny Graham has even had the chance to kick a ball. Who knows, he could well make great use of his only shot at redemption.