After weeks of speculation, it has been confirmed today that Danny Graham is indeed a Sunderland player - back after a four-year stint with Blackburn Rovers, the club he joined upon the expiration of his Sunderland contract in the summer of 2016.
Things have moved along at pace for both Graham and Sunderland in that time. Danny’s stint with Tony Mowbray’s side can’t be described as anything other than a success, scoring in double figures in three of the four seasons he spent with the club.
He’s become something of a Rovers' cult hero, playing a huge part in their promotion from League One in 2018 whilst following that up with a tremendous return in front of goal in the following campaign. All said and done, Graham has managed to redeem himself in the eyes of casual onlookers by rediscovering his scoring touch after leaving Wearside under a cloud.
Now, aged 35, he’s returned - older, slower perhaps, but wiser and more well-rounded.
Would I have signed him if it was me making the call? I have to be honest and say no.
For me, signing a 35-year-old centre forward doesn’t scream progression. It’s also hard to shake that feeling of uneasiness that has lingered over from his first stint with the club.
That said, though, I can see the upsides.
He knows the club, the area, and most importantly the division he finds himself playing in. If Sunderland can get even 60 percent of what Blackburn managed to get out of him at this level then it will have been a worthwhile venture.
Despite what I said earlier, I guess the logical thing to do is to shelve any ill-feeling you hold towards Graham for his inability to get firing for Sunderland in his first stint. Chiefly, because that was in the Premier League. In League One he’s got a proven scoring record that stretches all the way back to his time with Carlisle United in 2006.
The other facet to this is that we have to consider what Graham’s role here will actually be. Not even he can expect that he’ll manage to play in 40+ games this season.
As an option from the bench, used mainly to change system mid-way through a game, then it’s sensible. Presently the only player we have like Graham is Charlie Wyke and, well, the less said about him the better.
Is Graham better than Charlie Wyke? Even despite the fact I haven’t seen him play in four years I feel like I can answer that comfortably: yes.
So then... what’s all the fuss about, right?
I honestly don’t even know myself, and in writing this I’ve managed to talk myself into this deal being a good move, all things considered. Providing we’re not pinning all of our hopes on Graham leading the line week in, week out, then this is a decent short term move.
He can’t be costing the club a great deal of money in wages, and it’s a shot at redemption for a player who probably feels he’s got some unfinished business here.
So, from me he gets a clean slate and my best wishes. Despite my reservations, I think I can shelve them in favour of giving the lad a chance to prove his worth.