Aston Villa were in the midst of a promotion challenge for a return to the Premier League come the end of the January transfer window.
Steve Bruce’s side sat third in the division after a superb upturn in form saw off the top-two by just one point with 17 games remaining.
Promotion was still in the balance with a host of clubs jockeying for position as the campaign neared its conclusion.
With the Villans on the march and a place in the automatic promotion places a real possibility, reinforcements were sanctioned for Bruce’s side to further impose their will in the race for the Premier League.
On January 31, 2018, Lewis Grabban was signed on a six-month loan from relegation-threatened Sunderland in a bid to get Villa over the line and back in the top flight.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) January 31, 2018
It was a move that garnered a positive reaction from many of the club’s supporters, who took to Twitter to express their happiness at the deal for a striker who had scored 12 goals for one of the strugglers in the league.
Great bit of business. Lewis banged in the goals in a poor S'land side, he'll score hatloads for us.
— Gordy Robertson (DJ Greedy G) (@gordyrobertson1) January 31, 2018
Welcome Lewis very good signing
— Carl Naylor (@carln84) January 31, 2018
Really pleased. We got a much needed striker. #AVFC. He will score enough goals to help us secure promotion back to the promised land!
— Steve Brookes MBE (@SteveBrookes69) January 31, 2018
Not a bad signing for the fight for 2nd.. ????
— Rob Smith (@RobSmith1877) January 31, 2018
It would take the 30-year-old three matches to get his first goal, scoring in the 1-1 draw at home to Preston North End on February 20, 2018.
That would spark a run of four goals in four games as Villa remained unbeaten in that sequence.
Grabban would be a key asset to Bruce’s side during their push for promotion, which would ultimately end in disappointment.
Villa would miss out on an automatic place and have to make do with a playoff berth instead.
The Sunderland loanee managed eight goals in 15 regular season matches before playing his part in the post-season action.
Villa would make it past Middlesbrough in the semi-final 1-0 on aggregate before a narrow 1-0 defeat at Wembley against Fulham saw the London club promoted ahead of the Midlands outfit.
Goals deserted the in-form striker – and his loan side for that matter – when the season ended and that would prove the difference between losing out on promotion and heading back to the Premier League.
There was positivity abound with the signing of Grabban, and it was a deal that proved to be worthwhile for the six months he was at Villa Park.
The move worked for all parties involved, it is just a shame, for Villa fans, that the excitement didn’t culminate in promotion back to the elite level of English football.