Adam Johnson believes he has been good value for Sunderland at £10million.
Although the England international helped Manchester City win the Premier League title last season and the FA Cup in 2011, he decided to leave the Etihad Stadium in the summer due to a lack of first team football. A number of clubs, including Liverpool, had been credited with an interest in the winger, but he opted to return to his roots and link up with his hometown club.
Martin O’Neill used £10million of his budget to sign the 25-year-old, and it was considered one of the coups of the summer that he won the race for his signature. But Johnson has struggled to find his best form as the Black Cats look to pull away from the relegation zone, and this has seen him slip down the pecking order for Roy Hodgson’s World Cup plans.
However, the former Middlesbrough man has hit back at critics who have branded him a flop. And whilst he can understand that some of the Stadium of Light support may be disappointed with his form this term, he has asked them to take a look at his statistics which he believes show he has made a big contribution during his debut campaign on Wearside.
“I know the fans aren’t happy, but I have scored four goals this season. I’ve put in more crosses than anyone else and I’ve had assists for 11 goals too,” he told the Sunderland Echo. “Those are the stats I prefer to concentrate on, because they help give you confidence. I have to say that I’m reasonably satisfied with the stats against my name because they don’t lie.”
Sunderland are only four points above Wigan Athletic in the final relegation position, but the Lancashire club have a game in hand. And of all the teams who are struggling to avoid the drop, it is perhaps O’Neill’s which faces the toughest programme, which starts on Saturday lunchtime when runaway leaders Manchester United visit Wearside.
Trips to Chelsea, archrivals Newcastle United, and fellow strugglers Aston Villa are all to be made in April, with a visit from Everton completing the month. And then in May, successive home matches against Stoke City and Southampton precede the final fixture of the campaign, away at Tottenham Hotspur, who are currently fighting for a place in the top four.
And only if the Black Cats have retained their top-flight status after that lot can Johnson truly be satisfied with his contribution.