Back in the summer transfer window of 2017, Sunderland secured a deal to bring midfielder Jonny Williams to the Stadium of Light on loan for the duration of the 2017/18 season.
The Wales international was on the books at Premier League side Crystal Palace but recurring injury problems saw him shipped out on loan to MK Dons and Ipswich Town in 2016, thus seeing him fall some way down Roy Hodgson’s pecking order at Selhurst Park.
And Simon Grayson’s Sunderland, embarking on a Championship campaign following their disastrous top-flight season in 2016/17, secured the services of the 25-year-old on a season-long loan deal, a move which left a lot of Black Cats supporters cooing on Twitter…
Davey Vaughan in disguise, love it lads keep garn one more
— Cameron McGough (@cameronjmcgough) August 31, 2017
Certainly remember him at the euros and he looked very very good indeed so why not?! He will surely improve us
— SRB (@Fantanafest73) August 31, 2017
Jonny Williams is what we need at this level. Different to our other CM options. Similar player to Joe Allen. Can link defence to attack.
— Ryan Doneathy (@Ryan_Doneathy) August 31, 2017
Someone get him and David Vaughan on Jezza Kyle for a DNA test
— Daniel Mills (@blackewok) September 1, 2017
Welcome to Sunderland Jonny
— Jamie Squires (@JamiefSquires) September 1, 2017
Jonny Williams was born in the same village as me so for that reason alone I’m all for signing him.
— Peter Hewett (@WestSussexSAFC) August 31, 2017
— Josh moralee (@josh_moralee) August 31, 2017
— MR (@Discw0rld) August 31, 2017
Welcome to Sunderland
— Dawn Lesley (@MackemShaw) September 1, 2017
But given the North East giants embarked upon a desperately disappointing relegation campaign, of which Williams played very little part unsurprisingly due to injury, there is little doubt that Grayson’s transfer gamble backfired greatly for the Black Cats.
Ultimately, Sunderland were seen to have pulled off quite the coup in luring Williams away from Selhurst Park, what with the 25-year-old a Wales international and someone who has, when fit, produced the goods for Palace in years gone by.
However, it was always going to be a huge gamble by Grayson to sign and rely upon the midfielder given his recurrent injury problems, and they again reared their head during his one-year stint at the Stadium of Light, what with the 25-year-old ending the campaign with just 12 Championship appearances to his name.
There were glimpses of promise in starting each of their opening three games of the campaign, as well as netting his one and only goal in their 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough back in February of this year, but ultimately it was a Williams loan spell once again wrecked by injuries, which was bad news for the player, and very bad news for Sunderland.
On the surface, it was a move that made sense for the Black Cats given their need to rebuild cheaply and shrewdly following relegation from the Premier League, with Williams possessing the sort of ability needed in the middle of the park in the second tier, as evidenced by the odd impressive display during his time in the North East.
Overall though, it was a transfer gamble that backfired hugely for both Grayson, who was sacked in October, and indeed Sunderland, who lost their second tier status after just 12 months in the Championship.
Sunderland fans… what do you think? Let us know!
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