Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting NORTHERN ECHO to 80360 or email us
Sessegnon feels benefit of Graham’s arrival
IT has not been the start to Danny Graham's Sunderland career he would have liked, but his £5m arrival from Swansea City has at least brought the best out of Stephane Sessegnon.
The acquisition of Graham on deadline day in January has meant that manager Martin O'Neill has had an opportunity to play Sessegnon in other positions.
In two of the three matches that Graham has partnered Steven Fletcher in attack, the Benin international has figured in a wider role, where he has taken his season's tally to five goals with two more.
It has been a relief for Sunderland fans to see Sessegnon's performance levels improve after failing to show the sort of quality O'Neill has regularly hailed during his 16 months in charge.
O'Neill has admitted that uncertainty surrounding the former Paris St Germain forward last summer did not help at the start of the season.
"He has done really well for us and I still believe his best position is in behind the strikers, where he can move outside, and has that freedom to go and play," said O'Neill, pondering whether to move Sessegnon inside for tomorrow's visit of Norwich.
"We've just had to improve the rest of the team so we had to move him out to the right. He has come into this little spell and is doing really well.
"It was tough for him at the start of the season and maybe he had his head turned by lucrative offers. But he is capable of scoring ten or 12 goals a season."
For that to happen O'Neill believes the African must work on his game in front of goal. He said: "He is getting himself into great positions, but the problem is his finishing.
"Otherwise he would put himself right up there with the real quality players. His goal at West Brom was superb, as is his finishing in training."
While Sessegnon has found his feet in the penalty area during Sunderland's recent six-match slump, new-boy Graham is still waiting for his first goal.
Before leaving Swansea City he had scored seven times during a campaign in which first team opportunities were mainly from the bench.
Since his switch to Sunderland, three of his five appearances have been starts, without scoring a goal. O'Neill is not concerned.
He said: "He hasn't played that much. I am sure he would love to have come in and score goals immediately and win the fans over and play very well.
"At the moment both he and the side are coming to terms with a change of pattern of play but I have no problems that he will get some goals for us. Obviously he would like them as soon as possible. He will take time to settle in but sometimes it happens.
"Steven Fletcher got off to a flyer and kept it going. Danny has not been that lucky but there is time. I don't know him that well but I think he is one of those who cares about his performance by his participation in the team."