michael gray

Gray on Graham and progress

by Ashley Houghton

Ex-Black Cat on new striker and strides forward under MON.

Sunderland legend Michael Gray believes Danny Graham is the perfect addition for the Black Cats after the former Swansea man made his home debut in last weekend’s game against Arsenal.

Graham replaced Alfred N’Diaye 20 minutes from time and Gray believes the £5m January addition will not only help take the pressure off Steven Fletcher’s shoulders on the goal-scoring front, but also utilise the threat of Sunderland’s wide men.

He said: “I think he’s a great addition to the squad, he’s a goal scorer and somebody who can take the weight off Steven Fletcher’s shoulders, who has obviously had a great season so far.

“We’ve got great wide players in [Adam] Johnson, [Seb] Larsson, [James] McLean and even Stephane Sessegnon, so we need to give our centre forwards an opportunity and give ourselves a chance to win games.”

Gray, who made 363 league appearances for the Black Cats, remains an enduringly popular figure and is still fond of returning to Wearside.

And he thinks Graham will fit in well. “It’s always great for me to come back to the Stadium of Light; I love the fantastic atmosphere it always brings,” he added.

“I think if Danny goes out and plays his normal game he’ll be fine, because I think he’s a very good player.”

Saturday’s defeat to Arsenal was Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill’s 50th league game in charge of the Black Cats and Gray feels the progress made under the Northern Irishman has been considerable.

“When he first came through the door the performances were incredible and we needed them at the time,” he said.

“This season we got off to a little bit of a slow start, but I think overall when you look at some of the performances we’ve put in this season, there has definitely been progress made.”