Lee Johnson delivers verdict on stunning Sunderland win and explains his key starting XI changes

Lee Johnson said he was 'proud as punch' as his much-changed Sunderland XI delivered an outstanding performance against Cheltenham Town.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 10:35 pm

Johnson made five changes to the side that edged an impressive Bolton Wanderers side out at the weekend, and was rewarded with a thumping 5-0 win.

The Sunderland head coach also tweaked his formation, bringing in a second striker in the form of Nathan Broadhead.

Though he did not get on the scoresheet, the Everton loanee produced an outstanding performance as the Black Cats' gameplan came to fruition in impressive fashion.

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Sunderland boss Lee Johnson

Johnson still sees room for improvement but feels the cohesion of the group is improving.

That was typified by the way his new additions quickly settled into the side, with Leon Dajaku also adding his first Sunderland goal from the bench.

"I'm proud as punch really, for the whole club," Johnson said.

"I thought we were excellent and the lads who came in did the business. We were a threat all game and I think anyone would have found it tough to play against us today.

"We arguably could have had a couple more.

"Ross [Stewart] and Nathan [Broadhead] just so willing, aren't they.

"They're fit, quick and mobile. Cheltenham do play with a relatively high line and we felt that was something that we could capitalise on.

"We felt the ten might be obsolete and that two nines could really penetrate their defence. We could actually have found more of the passes in behind.

"We've still got loads to improve on but you can start to see that cohesion coming in now.

"I'd have loved to have played tonight as a midfielder because of the movement we had up front.

"My Dad used to tell me that at Manchester United. Beckham, Giggs, Cole, Yorke, they would make about 96 sprints a game. That is so hard to defend against and they only have to be five, ten yard sprints to really force the opposition back.

"A lot of stuff we work on has come out today and the lads deserve full credit of that."

Johnson also recalled Aiden O'Brien to his starting XI after a recent spell out of the matchday squad, and Johnson said that summed up the belief he has in his group.

"These players have been chomping at the bit," he said.

"I'm wanting to keep a consistent group but with the quality we have, I think it would be unfair to potentially lose some sharpness by not playing the boys who are doing so well in training and in cup games.

"We have nine, possibly ten games in five weeks or so, which is an unbelievable fixture list.

"The boys just have to accept it and hopefully we can keep churning out those performances.

"It's my job to pick an XI and to be honest, picking the bench can be harder when you have to leave one out. Aiden [O'Brien] is a classic example, going from not in the squad to starting.

"That shows the trust I have in my 20 or so players in the squad."

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