DANNY GRAHAM’S goal curse in a Sunderland shirt has to lift eventually, believes Dick Advocaat.
It is 27 games and counting without a Sunderland goal for Graham, who continued to draw a blank in his first start under Advocaat against Southampton last weekend, despite his significant efforts to a crucial victory for the Black Cats.
Since his £5million move to the Stadium of Light in January 2013, Graham’s one and only Premier League goal came during his loan spell at Hull City, albeit he found the net six times in the Championship for Middlesbrough last season.
But Sunderland head coach Advocaat insists Graham is the most clinical finisher in his squad on the training ground and is confident that the 29-year-old’s miserable drought will eventually reach a happy ending.
“It was an unbelievable game from Graham against Southampton with the way he worked and how dangerous he was,” said Advocaat.
“In training he’s the best goalscorer, but in the games, he’s not.
“So I think that has to change!
“He did not score, but he did a great job for the team.”
While Graham had a hand in winning both of the penalties expertly converted by Jordi Gomez against Southampton, Sunderland were also indebted to a stoppage time save from Costel Pantilimon after the Black Cats had made a mess of clearing their lines.
Pantilimon was at fault for Southampton’s equaliser when a chronic absence of communication with Sebastian Coates saw the Saints gifted a slapstick goal.
But Advocaat was glad to see the Romanian redeem himself at the death when a last-gasp equaliser would have left Sunderland with one foot in the Championship.
“I was not happy with the first goal, to be fair,” added Advocaat.
“Against Stoke he (Pantilimon) was brilliant.
“But I think he hesitated for the first goal.
“If you had a body like him, I would run away if he came near me!
“But in the second half he saved us at the end, so good for him and good for the team.”