Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boos Did Not Put O'Neill off Danny; Boos Did Not Put Black Cats Boss off Striker

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Boos Did Not Put O'Neill off Danny; Boos Did Not Put Black Cats Boss off Striker

Article excerpt

MARTIN O'Neill worried Tuesday's hostile reception might put Danny Graham off joining Sunderland, but insists he never wavered in his determination to sign the PS5m striker, writes STUART RAYNER.

Graham, who is set to make his Black Cats debut at Reading today, played his final game for Swansea City at the Stadium of Light this week. The 27-year-old came on as a 74th-minute sub and was booed by a section of Sunderland fans, who sang he was "nothing but scum".

Fifty hours before the transfer deadline, O'Neill (left) was concerned it could dissuade Graham from a transfer he had been trying for weeks to agree.

That it did not reinforced his views about the player's character.

"It was a thought," the Sunderland boss admitted. "At that stage we were still trying to agree a fee.

"But it didn't put him off and he was very pleased to come.

"I didn't give it a great deal of thought at that stage because we were trying to get a goal ourselves. It was only afterwards when you start to think about it that you worry it might have an influence on him.

"I thought it might have an influence on him but not for me.

"I feel he will be given a chance here and performances will determine everything." O'Neill was not the only North East boss to think that way, with Middlesbrough's Tony Mowbray giving Graham the easier option of a return to his former club only after hearing about Tuesday's crowd reaction. Gateshead-born Graham is not the first boyhood Newcastle United fan to play for Sunderland, but there was more than that to the terrace hostility, which appears to have divided supporters. The main grievance is unguarded comments made to a Watford fanzine in his time at the club talking down his current employers. "When you are down in Watford that is pretty south and I'm not so sure you are thinking anything will go back up north several years later! …

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