O'Neill pleased to see Johnson blossom
Published 15/01/2013 | 08:20
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has acknowledged that perseverance has been the key to unlocking the potential of his side after a tricky start to the season.
The Black Cats secured a morale-boosting 3-0 win over West Ham at the weekend to move themselves away from the bottom three. Adam Johnson, who joined the Wearside club from Manchester City last August, scored his third goal in eight Barclays Premier League games on an afternoon that also saw Sebastian Larsson and James McClean net their first and second goals of the season.
England winger Johnson in particular had looked to be struggling to find his feet in the north east, but O'Neill hopes his faith in the 25-year-old is finally starting to pay off following a strong performance at the weekend. "I've said this before that Adam has found it difficult," O'Neill said.
O'Neill, whose side's win over the Hammers was their fourth in seven league outings, added: "With respect to us (at Sunderland) he was playing with some very fine players at Manchester City. He was having little cameo roles, coming on for 20 or 25 minutes and doing very well.
"Here it was totally different. He was coming in and the expectation was very high from everyone, but not really from myself. One man isn't going to make the complete difference to a football team.
"But he, in contrast to Steven Fletcher, found it very difficult. Steven got off and running really quickly and Adam is coming to terms with all of those things, not just the expectation but his own influence on the team.
"He said himself, there are a number of players who have got more chances here than maybe they would at another club.
"Also we haven't had that many to choose from either, so a combination of all of those things is beginning to bear fruit we think."