ADAM JOHNSON believes that Sunderland’s new signings have received a brutal lesson in the ruthlessness of the Premier League.
Paolo Di Canio handed debuts to five summer recruits in Saturday’s Premier League curtain-raiser against Fulham, with another four new boys watching the opening-day defeat from the bench.
But despite the encouraging signs from the fresh faces as Sunderland controlled large chunks of the encounter, Di Canio’s side started this season as they finished the last, with a 1-0 loss.
Sunderland succumbed to a routine 52nd-minute corner, where Macedonian midfielder Pajtim Kasami exposed debutant Valentin Roberge to net with Fulham’s only effort on target.
Despite his dejection over the result, Black Cats winger Johnson says the outcome will show Sunderland’s recruits the importance of maintaining concentration in the Premier League.
“It’s a harsh lesson for the new players especially,” said Johnson.
“The lapse in concentration has cost us.
“But as long as we can learn from that and take the positives from the game, then we can push on.
“It’s always difficult losing to a set piece.
“If they score a good goal, it’s a little bit easier to take.
“But set pieces win games and that’s what it did for them because they didn’t do barely anything apart from that one corner.”
Johnson admits Sunderland also paid the price for a lack of cutting edge, with the bulk of the Black Cats’ efforts coming from long range.
When Sunderland fell behind, Di Canio’s men found little joy against a well-drilled Fulham back-line, albeit substitute Ji Dong-won should have done better in the 89th minute when he steered Johnson’s cross wide from six yards out.
Former Manchester City winger Johnson added: “We created some half-chances, but, in that final area, we need to be a bit more ruthless.
“When we went 1-0 down, they dropped deeper and we had even more of the ball.
“But it’s hard to break down 11 players sometimes.
“We said at half-time that the worst result we could get was 0-0.
“We were on top and they weren’t really threatening us. They didn’t look as if they wanted the win.
“We had a lot of possession, we tried to press and we pushed forwards. But, at the end of the day, it’s the one set piece that’s really cost us.”