Sunderland have today signed AFC Bournemouth striker Lewis Grabban on a season-long loan deal, with a view to a permanent arrangement down the line should he prove to be successful on Wearside.
The pacey forward, now aged 29 and perhaps entering the tail end of his career, hasn’t endured the best of times in recent years and, since re-joining the Cherries in 2016, hasn’t really figured much into Eddie Howe’s plans.
With Bournemouth signing Jermain Defoe from ourselves just a matter of weeks ago it further restricted Grabban’s opportunities and, in joining Sunderland, it’s a move that suits all parties involved.
At Championship level Grabban has a relatively decent scoring record and his personality would certainly suit the sort of player that Grayson is looking to bring in - experienced, hard-working and a good team player. Though it’s hard to ignore the fact that Grabban has failed to impress in recent seasons, this is an opportunity for the former Norwich man to rekindle his career at a club where he will be afforded plenty of opportunities - all under a manager that is renowned for getting the most out of players that have suffered from bumps in the road.
Whenever Sunderland make a new acquisition we try to source the opinions of supporters from the clubs that we are signing them from, and this case is no different.
We sat down with AFC Bournemouth fansite TheSouthEnd.co.uk to talk about Grabban and what he can bring to Sunderland in this coming season.
RR: Whilst Grabban isn’t a ‘big name’ signing, he has done well previously in the Championship for a few different clubs, including yourselves. How is he viewed down at Bournemouth?
TSE: He splits opinion.
After doing well at Bournemouth the first time around he thought he was a little too good for us and decided he wanted to go onto better things. That’s when he moved to Norwich. However, they then got relegated in the same season we were promoted... so you can see why his return split opinion. He did okay for us the first time, but it hasn’t really happened since he returned.
RR: Why hasn't he been a success second time around?
TSE: He was a good Championship player for us, but the manager was a huge reason behind that. When he left for Norwich, I don't think he really appreciated how much of an influence Eddie Howe was.
He went to Norwich, was good for a bit and then left under a bit of a cloud really. For some reason we paid somewhere between £7/8m for him and he simply wasn't good enough for the Premier League, if I’m honest. By the time he came back we had better strikers such as Josh King, we also signed Benik Afobe at the same time and he struggled to get in the side.
RR: What are his biggest strengths - and equally his biggest weaknesses?
TSE: His biggest strength when he played for Bournemouth in the Championship was definitely his pace, which is what brought him most of his goals. He’s got plenty pace.
I would say his main weakness is that he needs too many chances to score a goal. In the Premier League you get fewer chances and that weakness is perhaps one of the reasons it hasn’t worked for him. It is probably why he was a half decent Championship player though.
RR: What sort of forward is Grabban?
TSE: He is good at picking up the ball on the wing and running at opposition defences, or just simply outpacing them. He's not a striker who stands in the box waiting for the ball to come to him. He is better at creating his own chances, and does turn provider for other players as well.
RR: Overall, do you think he'll do well at Sunderland?
TSE: Will he do well at Sunderland? It's hard to say. We think if he finds the right club for him and the right manager he will do well. With the right management team he could regain his form from a few years back. Will that be Simon Grayson and Sunderland? Who knows, but let's hope he finally kicks his career back into gear.