One clear result of Sunderland's transfer activity this January is that the Black Cats' need for a new striker, already a concern even before 2013 arrived, has heightened considerably. Should Fraizer Campbell leave the club this month, as is rumoured, that will leave them with just two recognised strikers in Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham.
Fletcher has struggled for fitness recently, while Wickham still looks too raw to play week in week out. Stephane Sessegnon can of course play up top, but his profligacy in front of goal hardly marks him out as a desirable replacement.
With that in mind, O'Neill has been active in his search for a new striker, with Danny Graham of Swansea seemingly his key target. Graham, in his first full Premier League season, notched 12 goals for the Swans last year. With a ratio of one every three league games, he accounted for over a quarter of his side's overall total.
This term he has maintained that ratio across all competitions, notching seven goals in 21 appearances and, despite Sunderland's interest, he seems to be well respected by new manager Michael Laudrup.
Yet, plenty on Wearside have met this proposed transfer with dismay and, often, disgust. Graham, born in Gateshead, is a dyed-in-the-wool Newcastle United fan, one who has never sought to hide his allegiances. Back in October, ahead of the Wear-Tyne derby, Graham took to Twitter to offer his support to the black and whites. Furthermore, in a fanzine interview a while back, when asked which team he would support if his own went out of business, he responded that he would "keep as far away as possible from Sunderland".
Cue outrage on Wearside. Taking Graham's past comments as besmirching their own club's name, a large portion Sunderland fans have stated the striker is not welcome at the club. This is all rather petty. Graham is, after all, a professional footballer. If he is willing to come to Sunderland and be professional, something O'Neill will assess carefully before signing him, then where lies the problem?
Many have pointed to Michael Chopra's spell on Wearside as a sign of what could happen. Chopra, many feel, 'bottled' a chance against his boyhood side Newcastle when playing for Sunderland: he was promptly shipped out of the club in the days after the game. Yet plenty seem to have forgotten that, in a previous Wear-Tyne tussle, Chopra rattled a header off the crossbar, coming agonisingly close to scoring a winner. Hardly the work of an undercover agent, as some would have you believe he was.
Others look at the example of Lee Clark for proof of their worries. Clark left the club in 1999, having been spotted wearing an anti-Sunderland t-shirt whilst attending a Newcastle FA Cup Final. Yet, Clark gave his all whilst playing on Wearside, and was key to the side getting promoted in that same year. Don Hutchison, too, was a Newcastle fan, yet he even kissed the Sunderland badge when scoring in a victory at St James Park.
Ultimately, Danny Graham is a professional. Regardless of who he supported, or even still supports, it is his job to act in a professional manner and give his all for whomever he may sign. O'Neill will sign him if he believes Graham is capable of doing so. Sunderland fans should afford him the same courtesy.