Lee Johnson delivers verdict on Portsmouth win and has this message for his Sunderland squad
Lee Johnson hailed a professional performance from his side and insisted they would not get carried away after going within two places of the automatic promotion places.
Sunderland took the lead through a Charlie Wyke header early in the first half at Fratton Park, before a fine strike from Jordan Jones secured the three points at Fratton Park.
Johnson spoke of his delight at a performance that showed the strides his team is making.
“I was really happy with that. It gave me a lot of satisfaction,” Johnson said.
"I thought we were so professional after we scored our first goal.
“We made minimal mistakes defensively, and we had a lot of interaction and interplay going forward.
“We were a difficult side to play against tonight.
“Portsmouth tried to bully us, I thought. They wanted to get the ball in to their two big lads but our back two, and later back three, coped with that really well and limited them to not a lot.
“Against a good side like Portsmouth, I think that shows that we are improving and progressing as we want to.”
The win marked the latest step in a remarkable turnaround for the Black Cats, who are now eight games unbeaten in all competitions.
Johnson urged his squad to stay focused as they begin a challenging run of fixtures.
“It’s [form] down to the players,” he said.
"The coach can come in with a philosophy, but they have to carry it out. Let’s be careful though because statistically we were good anyway. We were good. When I did all my research, it was a good time to take a side.
"It was almost unlucky, the league position at that point. But we’ve got good players, and good students who are taking in what the manager wants. That means you are going to go and get results.
"I’ve said I think that the bigger clubs in the division will come through, and I think that’s showing now. A lot of the bigger clubs are starting to make inroads in that top six and towards the top two, including us.
"We’ve just got to keep making sure our performances are good and that we keep building. We have to be relentless in our attitude to win football matches.
“We’re still the challengers. What do you fight harder as, the challenger or the champion? At the moment, we’re the challenger and we have to just continue with what we’re doing. If you start looking at the outcome, you can fall down. Fans and press can do what you want, that’s your prerogative, but our job internally is to make sure we keep our eye on the ball.
"There’s still loads of bits today we could have improved on, loads,” he added.
"I can think of ten things straight away we could have improved on, and we’ll go away and assess it. We’ll obviously praise the boys, we’re not going to beat them with a stick when they’ve performed as well as they have tonight, but at the same time its that reaffirmation of the quality stuff and make sure we genuinely assess the stuff we can improve.”