James Hunt: If Danny Graham gives his all, Sunderland fans can lay off the boos
Fan’s Eye View
Friday 01 February 2013
What a difference a day (and a half) makes.
Tuesday 29 January, 9.15pm: Danny Graham is booed by Sunderland fans as he comes on as a substitute for Swansea.
Thursday 31 January, 2pm: Danny Graham signs a three-and-a-half-year deal with Sunderland.
There are no real surprises when it comes to football transfers nowadays. However, surely not many players can be booed by a club, only to sign for them 36 hours later.
We were always likely to be in the market for a striker this window, especially as three of them were allowed to leave.
A couple of the usual suspects were mentioned – Gary Hooper, John Guidetti, Jan Koller – but Graham's was the only rumour that seemed to have any weight behind it.
Hand-in-hand with the talk of his arrival was the talk of his allegiances. He's made no secret in the past of his boyhood support of Newcastle, and before long the world and his aunt had seen a snippet of an interview given to a fanzine in which he was less than complimentary about us.
Opinions everywhere were divided, from the offices of our fanzine A Love Supreme to social networks and people in the pub. There were three schools of thought on Graham:
1) Fans wanted him, regardless of who he supports;
2) Fans didn't want him because he was a Newcastle fan;
3) Fans didn't want him because the deal didn't represent value for money.
I sat somewhere between 1 and 3; I'm not sure he's worth the £5m fee, but I couldn't really care less who he supports as long as he gives his all on the pitch (and doesn't take fashion tips from Lee Clark off it – remember his 1999 Cup final T-shirt).
The booing is peculiar, to the say the least, as I cannot remember him being booed on previous occasions against us. This means, in effect, he has been jeered for wanting to sign for us. And, despite that reaction, he still wanted to come here. That, for me, says a lot.
I think for the majority of fans it'll be a case of if he gives it his all and scores a few goals then it won't be an issue.
On the flipside, if he misses a few chances – especially at St James' Park – then it'll be used by some as a stick to beat him with. The fact he wanted to come here, though, should ease the fears of fans who have bad memories of Clark and Michael Chopra.
Where he differs from those fellow Newcastle fans is that he's never actually played for them. He's never been paid to wear their shirt; never been cheered by their fans. Of course it's not quite as (ahem) black and white as that –Titus Bramble played for them, and manages fine, although he wasn't a fan and we enjoyed seeing him play for Newcastle more than their own fans did.
We've signed someone for a fairly sizeable fee, who publicly made clear his intentions to leave in order to help the transfer progress, fits in with Martin O'Neill's style and scored 12 Premier League goals last season. Sound familiar?
James Hunt writes for Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme
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