Sunderland boss says high-pressing style is sign of things to come and key for summer recruitment
Lee Johnson says that replicating the intensity of Sunderland's first half pressing at the Stadium of Light is key to the club's vision moving forward.
In front of 10,000 fans the Black Cats overturned a two-goal deficit against Lincoln City, and could have been ahead on aggregrate at the break had the referee awarded a penalty for a potential foul on Ross Stewart.
Lincoln regrouped at the break and kept Sunderland at arm's length for much of the second half, with Johnson conceding that his side had not been good enough for promotion over the course of 48 games.
However, he hopes those opening exchanges provided a glimpse of the future and says it is key that Sunderland recruit players capable of carrying out that style.
"We want that high-pressure game and we've talked about that," he said.
"We haven't had the opportunity to implement it in front of fans but I think that we can see and they can see exactly how that benefits the boys in their performance.
"There was only 10,000 in there and they made it seem like at least 25.
"Players feed off that, and vice versa.
"I thought the intensity and tempo was top drawer probably up until that spell in the second half where we lost it for 10,15 minutes.
"If anything, that's an argument to go and sign fitter, quicker, sharper players and develop our own. And build around the quality we already have in the side as well.
"It's certainly a sign of things to come, that pressing intensity is probably the key phase really going forward."
Sunderland suffered from a poor home record durign the regular campaign, with games played behind closed doors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 35 points from 23 games, Sunderland's record at the Stadium of Light was merely the twelfth best in the division.
Johnson says harnessing the power of supporters next season can be key.
"You have seen today, if we can harness the power of the fans, use that in our pressing system, we can create really good, high-tempo spectacles," he said.
"Your home form can then be the difference over 23 games."