Sunderland Club Focus - Can Fletcher and Johnson propel Sunderland into Europe?
With only a few days left before the close of the transfer window Sunderland have already made their mark with the additions of Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson. In desperate need of some fire power upfront, the Black Cats were in the market for a marksman as well as someone with the ability to create opportunities for others. In Fletcher and Johnson they have found what they were looking, for but are these two additions able to push them far enough up the table to claim a European spot?
With 12 Premier League goals last season Fletcher represents a real goal scoring threat. He has improved his Premier League tally by two goals every season over the last three campaigns, and if that trend continues he could be looking at approximately 14 this season. 14 goals from Fletcher alone would be a delight for Sunderland fans who had been worried about where the goals would come from.
Whether partnering with the tricky Stephane Sessegnon, the experienced Louis Saha or hungry Fraizer Campbell, Fletcher will be counted on to be the main scoring threat this season. His ability to produce could mean the difference between a mid-table finish or a fight for a European spot in the upper echelons of the league. Sunderland fans will agree that as built, this team is only missing the goal scoring touch of someone like Fletcher to take them to the next level and with Martin O’Neill’s style of play, he may well be positioned to give fans what they want, a spot in Europe next year.
The curious case of Adam Johnson is slightly different from Fletcher but no less intriguing for Sunderland fans. Johnson comes to the Black Cats with plenty of potential but having had less opportunity to display his talents in a loaded Manchester City side. Since leaving Middlesbrough Johnson has not made more than 15 Premier League starts in a season while averaging more substitute appearances than starts in all competitions. At Sunderland however, his role is expected to be a major upgrade from the one he had with City.
Johnson’s creativity and dynamic style of play will add a new dimension to a hard working midfield that sometimes lacks cutting edge in the final third. Johnson may have the ability to provide that missing ingredient while allowing Sebastian Larsson to slide into the centre of midfield where he can be more influential. The opportunity to play every week while having an important role should bring out the best in Johnson, which could only mean improved results for the Mackems. Fans will be hoping this injection of talent into the lineup will reflect positively on their position in the table.
As O’Neill continues to shape his side fans have become more and more excited, especially with the addition of Johnson and Fletcher. Expectations for the club have risen and a place in Europe may be the new goal as the club assembles the kind of talent needed to get there.
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