Johnson: Extra goal threat so vital for Sunderland

Sunderland's Adam Johnson and Cardiff's Fabio Da Silva (right) battle for the ball.
Sunderland's Adam Johnson and Cardiff's Fabio Da Silva (right) battle for the ball.
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ADAM JOHNSON believes a multi-pronged threat has been crucial towards Sunderland’s dramatic transformation over the last fortnight.

For too long over the last couple of years, Sunderland have relied upon one in-form player to get the Black Cats out of jail.

Last season, Steven Fletcher and Stephane Sessegnon held that weight of responsibility, while this year, Johnson, Ki Sung-Yueng and Fabio Borini have been Sunderland’s big hopes at various stages of the campaign.

But with Connor Wickham netting five goals in three, Borini converting from the spot in the last two and Johnson continuing to put defenders on the back foot, Gus Poyet’s side have looked far more threatening in their seven-point haul over the last three games.

Johnson told the Echo: “I think it’s important to not just have one threat.

“Even if you look at the top teams, they have an individual, but if he is not doing it one day or getting marked out of the game, there’s always somebody else to do it.

“Relying on one or two people is difficult in a team of 11.

“Teams are just going to pinpoint one person and think if he doesn’t play, the team won’t.

“I think that’s probably been our trouble throughout the season, we haven’t had enough people on it at once.”

Wickham has been the catalyst for the vast improvement in Sunderland’s attacking threat after making the most of his opportunity in the starting XI following his return from a loan spell at Leeds United.

Johnson has noticed the difference in the two years he has worked alongside Wickham.

And he believes the 21-year-old has simplified his game, rather than looking for the spectacular.

“Connor’s a threat and he’s a big lad. He’s tough to play against,” added the England winger.

“In the last couple of games, I think he’s just gone back to basics - held it up well, laid it off and got in the box.

“Obviously that’s through developing and maturing.

“When I first came, he was young and a bit raw. He was a bit flicky.

“But now he’s a big lad and knows exactly what he’s good at.

“You can’t get it off him when you play it into him with his touch and how big he is. Now he’s bringing in goals. A couple of his finishes look like he’s been around for ages.”