Belfast Telegraph

Sunderland fans boo transfer target Danny Graham during goalless draw

By Martin Hardy

Sunderland 0 Swansea City 0: Danny Graham is expected to be a Sunderland player by the end of the transfer window. It is fair to say he will begin life at his new club on the back foot. Relationships between football players and the fans of their clubs do not often begin with such blatant hostility.

The Swansea forward was subjected to a tirade of abuse when he was brought on in the 75th minute. Graham is a lifelong Newcastle fan. Quotes he gave during his Watford days were brought up recently. They were uncomplimentary towards Newcastle's rivals. His introduction offered Sunderland supporters their opportunity for payback, and they were not shy to miss the chance.

Graham was jeered when he came on. The first chant was against Newcastle, the second more personal. "You'll always be scum," echoed around the Stadium of Light.

"I think he is himself reportedly a Newcastle fan so I think the reaction, as we stand at this moment, was probably quite a natural reaction," said Sunderland's Martin O'Neill. Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, had earlier repeated his view football managers become politicians in January.

That Graham almost won such a grim game at least backed up O'Neill's judgment to sign the player for £5.5m, even if there will be such a difficult honeymoon period to come. The third and final minute of injury time had almost passed when Michu set up the Gateshead-born centre-forward. The finish, from close range, was instinctive and it took a saving challenge from Titus Bramble to give Sunderland a point and keep a lid on Graham's burgeoning relationship with the home club's fans. A late winner would not have gone down well.

Graham's shot was at least on target, which was more than Sunderland could manage in the entire game.

"There is an over reliance on Steven Fletcher," added O'Neill. "We're at home. Were expect to do better. We're expected to take the game to them. The onus is on us. We didn't do it well enough. We played very disappointingly in the game. We came in with plenty of confidence and also with the weekend off and I thought wed be refreshed and ready to go. Swansea, without looking all that dangerous themselves, dictated the game."

Nathan Dyer, again set up by Michu, had gone close moments earlier. Swansea had 12 shots in the game; Sunderland two. Swansea also appealed, unsuccessfully, for a penalty when John O'Shea clipped Itay Shechter.

"I'm both very pleased with the performance, quite happy with the point but I maybe think we should have won," said Laudrup. "The most important thing was to see the reaction of the team after last Wednesday. In Swansea, everybody since then has been talking about the Chelsea game and the final. It was very important to see the reaction of the squad. I don't recall even one major chance at goal for Sunderland. They had no chance at all. That says a lot about our performance. I think it should have been a penalty but I am not complaining."

Man of the match Ashley Williams.

Match rating 1/10.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands).

Attendance 35,628.

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