ADAM JOHNSON insists Sunderland must ensure their new passing philosophy is accompanied by a cutting edge.
Black Cats head coach Gus Poyet has introduced a fresh approach at the Stadium of Light since succeeding Paolo Di Canio last month, with Sunderland noticeably putting the emphasis on maintaining possession.
It was a strategy which served Poyet well at his former club Brighton and has been a popular system in the Premier League over recent seasons, with Swansea, Arsenal and Wigan among those sides who have relied on ball retention.
Johnson is relishing Sunderland’s new approach, but warns that it will be pointless if it is not complemented by a goal threat.
The winger said: “When you look at Swansea, they’ve shown at times that they can pass the top teams off the park.
“But then they don’t really hurt them.
“You can’t just pass all game and not go anywhere.
“Goals win games and in the big teams, the front players are the best players. They create something out of nothing.
“Wigan kept the ball well, but ended up going down.
“I’d rather not be playing pretty football, but stay in the Premier League.
“It’s a fine line and you’ve got to balance it. You’ve got to be prepared to pass the ball, but pass it in the right areas.
“You can’t have it at the back all game because it doesn’t hurt anyone.
“If a team plays like that in front of you, you just keep your shape and it’s easy to defend against.
“It’s when a team gets behind you that it’s difficult.
“That’s what we need to do and we did it against Man City when we hurt them in the right areas.”
Poyet has introduced a change of approach in winning back possession too, with Sunderland’s players urged to compete for the ball in the opposition half.
Johnson believes that is providing a helping hand to his own attempts to be an attacking threat by giving him a platform to run at defenders higher up the pitch.
“I think I’ve seen more of the ball in the last three home games,” added the 26-year-old.
“But I think the manager wants us to have the ball even more in the opponent’s half because it’s so much easier to defend off that.
“If we can push up the pitch and win the ball back in their half, it’s easier for us to score goals.
“That’s our aim. Then we don’t have to travel 60 yards from our own goal trying to attack. That’s brilliant for me.”