As new Sunderland manager Chris Coleman astutely pointed out in his first press conference, as reported by The Chronicle, recruitment is one area where the club has really let themselves down in recent years.
But amid another summer of disappointing and underwhelming additions, Lewis Grabban has undoubtedly been the stand-out performer. A proven goalscorer at this level, the former Bournemouth and Norwich City man provides a rare beacon of hope despite Sunderland’s precarious position at the foot of the Championship table.
A 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa on Tuesday was far from the dream start Coleman was hoping for – but at least he has a striker in form to call upon. The 29-year-old, who joined from Bournemouth on a season-long loan, scored at Villa Park to take his tally to ten in 13 starts in 2017/18.
It may be seen as a surprise, then, that Sunderland were not really challenged for Grabban’s signature. The Express reported in January that Leeds United wanted to sign the striker on loan for the rest of the 2016/17 season – but they did not appear to renew their interest in the summer even with Chris Wood departing for Burnley.
Instead, Leeds’ under-fire Director of Football Victor Orta brought in Pierre-Michel Lasogga from Hamburg, untested teenager Jay-Roy Grot from the Dutch second tier as well as Caleb Ekuban, who spent last season in Albania. The trio have scored less goals combined than Grabban has by himself in 2017/18.
And with Leeds fans clamouring for proven Championship nous in the New Year, it seems baffling that Grabban was not on their radar in the summer with Bournemouth seemingly so happy to let him go.
He may not replicate Wood’s tally of 27 from last season – but the 20 goal barrier is definitely within reach.