Adam Johnson thinks Sunderland’s 4-1 win at Fulham will have put fear into their relegation rivals, but admits they now need some good home performances to follow it up.
Saturday’s victory, secured with Johnson’s first senior hat-trick, lifted them off the bottom of the table, albeit on goal difference.
Just six points separate Sunderland from the top half, and their next four Premier League games are all in the North East.
“Looking at the teams around us, I think everyone was writing us off, we were dead and buried so we had nothing to lose,” Johnson reflected. “But now there are going to be few teams who will not be wanting to play us.”
In a reverse of their form for most of this season, Sunderland have looked better away from the Stadium of Light in recent weeks – at least in the league.
“Our home form has not been great,” said Johnson, somewhat harshly. “We have done all right but Norwich at home and Villa, but we were looking to win those games. I think it’s important that we start winning games at home that are not in the cup.
“We are looking forward to them now. We have just got to go into them like we do the away games, and play our football.
“If we can be a bit better at home, 20% extra, then I think we will start winning games. When teams see Saturday’s result, there will be a few looking over their shoulders.”
Johnson has scored or provided seven of Sunderland’s last nine goals – and he was off the field when one was scored! – after an indifferent first half of the season.
“Every player will tell you there’s times when things just don’t go for you,” Johnson said. “You are still trying the same things I was on Saturday, but they just don’t come off for you.
“But just because players lose form, you don’t turn into a bad player overnight. Hopefully now its a new year, new start. I just said to myself just let’s get back to my old ways. This is a new year, everything else has gone. Everything seems to have worked out for me.”
Earlier in the week Johnson claimed he had all but written off the England World Cup spot opened by Theo Walcott’s season-ending injury. His hat-trick has softened his attitude.
“It’s always difficult when you are not involved and you have been,” he admitted. “You have just got to work hard. It’s people’s decisions, isn’t it, and you have got to respect that.
“In the last few weeks and months I felt like the door was almost closed on me but if I keep playing like this you never know.”