Sunderland: Danny Graham or Gary Hooper - who would you prefer O'Neill to sign?
We’re well under way in the January transfer window and things are hotting up on Wearside.
The Black Cats have brought in Senegalese defender Kader Mangane from Al Hilal and talented French U21 international Alfred N’Diaye from Turkish club Bursaspor. Meanwhile, heading the departure list is Louis Saha – disappointing since his summer move, Ji-Dong Won (who moved to Augsburg several weeks ago), and Frazier Campbell, who is in the midst of tying up a deal to move to Cardiff.
It’s expected that the likes of Matt Kilgallon, Titus Bramble, David Vaughan and Keiren Westwood will follow suit as soon as Martin O’Neill has sufficient replacements in store.
As per usual the club have been linked with anyone and everyone, but two names that have been mentioned more than once this week are Swansea’s Danny Graham and Liverpool’s Stewart Downing; two northerners that were out of favour for so long at their respective clubs, but who have been on fire lately. With reguards to Graham’s prospective move, the avid Geordie will have some explaining to do about his provocative comments that were once again brought to light this week and will be hoping to hit the ground running if indeed he does choose the North East over East Anglia.
In this writer’s opinion O’Neill should turn his attentions to Celtic’s Gary Hooper – prolific in the Champions League this term – if he wants to avoid the backlash of the unforgiving Sunderland faithful, who still harbor bitter memories of Lee Clark’s infamous T-shirt fiasco at the 1999 FA Cup Final. The last thing the Irishman needs is more negative publicity with the club sitting in 11th place and woefully exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Bolton last week; Hooper has more big-match experience, is younger and will represent better value for money in the long run.
Or, there is the option of bringing in both now that Saha, Campbell and Dong-Won have left, and James McFadden’s contract set to end next week. Stephane Sessegnon could revert to part of a four-man diamond midfield with O’Neill playing two strikers. This would utilise Fletcher and Wickham and offer healthy competition, the likes of which only Man City and Man Utd can boast.
Of course, we all know Martin O’Neill is one of the most unpredictable men in football and rather frustrating with his team selections so time will tell how the Sunderland squad will shape-up come February.
I’m looking forward to seeing N’Diaye play a whole game after his positive start as a late sub last weekend, while Adam Johnson and James McClean are finally starting to become impact players.
Calling all Sunderland fans: Who would you prefer to see Martin O'Neill sign, Danny Graham or Gary Hooper? Saturday's win over Wigan has moved Sunderland up to 11th. Are you now confident of beating the drop and could you now make a late push for a European spot? Whatever your views we'd love to hear from you.