ADAM Johnson says that, unlike previous club Manchester City, Sunderland are a club interested in evolution rather than revolution.
But he says he is happy to be a big player in the Black Cats’ process after being a bit-part player in City’s surge to the top of the footballing pile.
The 25-year-old left the Etihad Stadium in the summer, despite City winning the title, because he wanted to be at a club where he was not just another big-name player on the bench getting the occasional run-out.
And the Easington-born England international says he has found the destination he was looking for in his return to his hometown club.
But he says he sees both clubs continuing to go forward in recent years – even if they’ve been going forward at different speeds in recent years.
Johnson says there’s a quiet but definite forward motion at the Stadium of Light under the leadership of Ellis Short and Martin O’Neill – unlike the breakneck pace at which the richest club in the world has gone about business.
“With City, everyone knew where they were going,” said Johnson, whose return to the Etihad at the weekend was spoiled by personal illness and his side’s 3-0 defeat.
“It’s not that drastic a change at Sunderland.
“The club is progressing, but a bit slower.
“City went out and bought Robinho (for £32.5m on deadline day 2008) and people like that and, straight away, it was pretty clear what they were going to be about.
“Here at Sunderland, this is a club progressing quickly, the players are coming in and gelling as a team, but it does not feel like when I was at City.
“It was all change at City when I signed there and things have moved fast for them. Very fast. It has paid off for them, too, because they won the Premier League in May.”
Regardless of the pace of change at the Stadium of Light, the England winger still feels that Sunderland will go in the right direction this season.
“We were unbeaten before the City game, which is not too bad,” he said and he points to the presence of Steven Fletcher, Premier League Player of the Month for September with five goals in four games, as a good reason for optimism.
He said: “Steven’s been unbelievable since he signed. Nobody expected him to be this good straight away.
“He’s a goalscorer and that’s what a team wants. If he doesn’t do anything all game and scores a goal to win you the game, that’s enough for me. He wins points.
“He’s in the right place at the right time and he will continue scoring goals.”