The transfer window is an opportunity for some players to move on and restart their careers. And so it is that, while saying welcome to Jan Kirchhoff and Dame N’Doye we also say goodbye to Costel Pantilimon and Danny Graham.
Neither will be rated as amongst the finest signings the club has made. They will not be spoken of in the same awed terms that are reserved for the likes of Chris Turner or Marco Gabbiadini (48 today).
The Giant Pantilimon has departed for Watford to be second choice to the former Tottenham third choice Hereluo Gomes. The Romanian joined us from Manchester City for nothing and leaves us 18 months later for not much more. He was the tallest player ever to appear for Sunderland and was even taller than Bobby Kerr on a pair of stilts.
A decent goalkeeper who was prone to errors would be a good epitaph for him. For a man of his size, he did not dominate his box and he was not a great decision maker. Southampton’s equaliser at the Stadium last season was TGP at his worst and although he made some outstanding saves [including at that game – Ed], I never felt that the defenders in front of him were quite sure what he was going to do.
He leaves partly because of the promise of Jordan Pickford and partly because he is more costly to keep than Vito Mannone. It is to be hoped that this native of Timisoara (the city where the protests against Ceausescu began) does not come back to haunt us on the last day of the season by playing a blinder and sending us down – although I fear that it may be all over by then.
Danny Graham is off to Blackburn Rovers for the rest of the season and then his contract is up. He cost us £5m from Swansea City and, it is fair to say, has proved to be one of the worst signings the club has made in recent years – and there have been an awful lot of those.
That does not mean that he is a bad player. His goal scoring record at Carlisle, Watford and Swansea shows that, when played in the correct position and given the right service, he will score and score frequently.
Martin O’Neill signed him to play in that role but unfortunately did not have the midfield players who could provide him with the balls he needed. He spent the first few months of his Sunderland career in a team that was on the slide and that, coupled with the failure to open his account, led to him losing confidence in his ability.
All the managers he has played for on Wearside have spoken well of him and all have given him opportunities. But the longer he played, the less likely it was that he would fulfil the hopes they had for him and he leaves us with but one goal.
That came in a 2-0 win at Goodison Park during Dick Advocaat’s Great Escape. It was a typical Graham goal, taken from inside the six-yard box showing his predatory instincts as he diverted a Jordi Gomez shot into the net.
In 42 appearances, that solitary strike stands in a sharp contrast to his goals per game ratio at Brunton Park, Vicarage Road and in South Wales.
The ultimate insult came when Jozy Altidore was preferred to him throughout the 2013-14 season as he went on loan to Hull, Middlesbrough and Wolves. When I am in the old folks’ home and wake up screaming in the middle of the night and the nurse asks me why, I shall say “I was dreaming of a Sunderland strike force of Danny Graham and Jozy Altidore.”
He was a decent bloke by all accounts and he has been involved with a Charity called Heel and Toe which works with young people who have cerebral palsy. He also helped to pay for an operation for a Gateshead player J J O’Donnell who was suffering from sesamoiditis, a condition which affects the bones of the toes.
Both were well rewarded financially for their time at Sunderland but are entitled to our best wishes for the future.
And finally, a short poem;
Goodbye to Danny and The Giant Pantilimon
Costel cost us nowt
But Danny was 5 million