When Sunderland needed a striker in January 2019, Stewart Donald rocked back in his office chair in despair.
He had left it until the deadline and with clubs around the EFL well aware of their circumstances following Josh Maja’s departure, negotiations could be drawn out.
Donald identified Will Grigg as his main target but after failing with a few bids, eventually forked out £4m to bring him to the Stadium of Light, a process that was drawn out in front of the cameras for the club’s Netflix documentary.
It was a colossal deal, especially for a club in League One and it hasn’t paid off. Donald signed him as the man to lift the Mackems to promotion but that’s never looked like happening.
Since signing for the club, Grigg has netted just eight times in a Sunderland shirt. It’s a horrible tally for someone who had such a promising record at this level.
Phil Parkinson came in but he failed to get the best from the Northern Irishman. Last term, the striker found the net on only three occasions in a torrid campaign.
Should Grigg get a second chance at Sunderland?
The desire of him firing the Black Cats to promotion is now a distant memory. Parkinson could never extract much but he hardly suited his playstyle either.
The former Sunderland manager preferred a more direct approach rather than the quick, offensive style that Lee Johnson has opted for.
However, Grigg is now beginning to flourish and finally find his way. He was granted a loan move to MK Dons in January and has hit the ground running, scoring three goals in his opening six matches.
He’s also picked out three assists for the League One club in what has been a fantastic start to life under Russell Martin. Speaking about the forward recently, he commented: “He has been brilliant. His attitude, his attention to the details, and his quality. He is getting better and better, fitter and fitter.”
With Grigg now in such good form in the same division as Sunderland, Parkinson must be cursing his luck that he couldn’t extract more from the striker.
If he’d found a play style to accommodate the £6k-per-week earner, the Black Cats may well have found themselves in a better place for promotion. After all, their top scorer last term in the league was Chris Maguire on just ten.
As this term has proven, goals are vital in the race to go up. Charlie Wyke’s haul of 19 has been game-changing with Sunderland now sitting fourth in the table.
This could be a classic case of what if for the north-east side. Parkinson should be tearing his hair out that he lost his job before Grigg found form.
AND in other news, Forget Gooch: Johnson should unleash £4.4k-p/w SAFC dynamo, he left Parkinson fuming…