Faith in flair has finally got Sunderland looking up the table following victory over West Ham

Sunderland 3 West Ham United 0

It has taken time, but Adam Johnson believes the patience shown by Martin O'Neill in Sunderland's flair players is finally paying dividends.

O'Neill loyally stood by Johnson, Stéphane Sessègnon and James McClean through a troubled spell earlier in the season. Johnson, the £10m summer signing from Manchester City, took time to settle at his new club, not helped by injury. McClean and Sessègnon failed to spark and it was left to Steven Fletcher to plough a lone furrow as Sunderland slipped down the Premier League.

O'Neill doggedly resisted calls for change and four wins in their last seven Premier League games, including Saturday's 3-0 victory against West Ham, in which, after Seb Larssson had scored early, both Johnson and McClean found the net, has brought vindication.

"We're looking to the top half, not below," said Johnson. "Let's see if we can forget about the teams below us now. I think getting to know each other better could be one of the things. I think it's been hard with everyone coming in. It's been a massive change for the club. There was a lot of expectancy on the club and I think we took a bit of time, but if we can keep performing like that we won't be too worried.

"We looked threatening and we cut them open so many times; everything clicked for us. It took us a bit of time with new players but I think you're starting to see the benefits now of having a few games with each other. The most important thing is we created chances. If we're creating them, they don't mind so much people missing them.

"I think I've started more games for Sunderland probably than I did in the whole of last season. I think that tells you the story. My game is definitely benefiting from that. I feel much better physically."

Manager O'Neill added: "I possibly have persevered with one or two players. In my defence, maybe we didn't have that many alternatives. Sessègnon was excellent for us [on Saturday] without scoring a goal and Steven Fletcher, without scoring a goal, led the line brilliantly. We played very well. What is the difference? Deep down, I'm not exactly sure. There was more confidence about the team and that seemed to permeate to the crowd as well."

Senegal defender Kader Mangane will have a medical ahead of a proposed season-long loan move to Sunderland from Rennes.

Allardyce: Tomkins staying put

Sam Allardyce has admitted the defensive injury crisis at West Ham means he will not let James Tomkins leave during the January transfer window.

Tomkins has again been linked with a possible move to Newcastle but Allardyce – already missing defenders George McCartney and Joey O'Brien – lost his first-choice centre-half James Collins to a hamstring injury in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Sunderland.

"We have never been in a position to sell anybody and we don't want to," said the West Ham manager. "We want to increase the size of the squad, not decrease it and sell anybody. It was less likely James was going to leave in the first place, even less likely now.

"Now we only have two centre-halves left, James and Winston Reid, and we have a 19-year-old at full-back because we have no one else, so I need two in if I am honest. I have been looking for a left-back for the last 10 days."

Allardyce revealed he may renew his efforts to sign Martin Olsson, the Blackburn full-back. Rovers have so far rejected an offer believed to be around £3m.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...