What The Gaffer Said
I think this win could be the key game that sees the season change.
It's difficult to compare this to other games. There's been the Newcastle win, the Man City win, the Everton win and the Cup victories, but it is a very satisfying result.
It leaves a very good feeling and we've done it at the right time. We've been waiting a while for a result like this - and what a way to do it, away from home, against a rival who is close to us in the table.
Three goals from Adam Johnson, you cannot get much better, you know how expensive goals are!A player like Adam needs to be played in the right way and we've been trying to make sure the team play in a way that suits him to make the difference.
The last two or three weeks I think he's been outstanding and if he can maintain this level and consistency he's going to be a great help
We won today in a very good way, against a team lower in the league, something we have had trouble with this season. We need to stay calm and maintain this consistency.
Praise the lord, or perhaps more accurately Gus Poyet, for Sunderland have actually worked out this set-piece malarkey. Since the Uruguyan's arrival the Black Cats have scored 8 goals from free-kicks and corners, and Saturday was yet another example of how much effort is being put in on the training ground, with Sunderland a constant threat from dead ball situations.
After almost pulling off the 'back post header back into the danger zone' method of free-kick for the second time in the week when Fletcher headed over, we scored with another clever set-piece, Johnson finding Ki unmarked with a short pass for the Korean to calmly stroke into danger. It took a deflection and went into the net.
There's quite clearly more than an element of luck to Sunderland's set-piece threat, and it's another example of how good a coach Poyet is, coming up with a number of different ideas that leave opposition defences unsure as to what to expect, and who to cover.
Speaking of Gus Poyet's good management, he also must be commended for his handling of players. When the Uruguayan arrived, many parts of the press seemed to suggest we were getting another 'Di Canio'. To a lot of people he seemed a terrifying looking man, who had met the ire of Vicente at Brighton and who may or may not have done a poo in a dressing room.
Instead, Poyet has shown himself to be able to manage his player very effectively. Rather than go on a series of rants attacking players, the former Chelsea man has decided to try and get the best out of what he has, and nowhere can this be seen more effectively than with his handling of the previously under-performing Adam Johnson.
Poyet has largely kept the locally born winger out of the side since his arrival,allowing him to stew on the bench and wait for his moment, while at the same time talking him up as a potential season-changer. He got his chance in mid-week at Manchester United and took it, and brought that form into a sensational performance against Fulham. If Poyet can continue to get the best out of Johnson, perhaps using the carrot of a possible World Cup place, then Sunderland will have no problems come the end of the season.
Safety From Here?
Sunderland have picked up 16 points from the 14 games since Poyet's arrival; a very good return considering the run of home fixtures we had prior to New Years. The big concern of course, was that these points were rarely gained against teams around us, which is why Saturday's performance puts something of a marker down.
You'd struggle to imagine the team's around us putting in as good a performance as we did against Fulham, a team that look a pretty good bet for the drop at the minute, and even our bad performances recently under Poyet (Aston Villa, Norwich) haven't been anywhere near as atrocious as the sort of schlock the likes of West Ham have been producing.
Sunderland have shown they are a lot better than the team around them, and with the side just a point from safety, surely Saturday was the result that will allow us to kick-on and get out of trouble?