ADAM JOHNSON thinks the job of transforming Sunderland in to an established top ten club will take time and has suggested Martin O'Neill's work is very much in progress.
Johnson's August arrival at the Stadium of Light in a £10m deal coincided with the Black Cats investing £12m in acquiring Steven Fletcher from Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It was the biggest double deal ever delivered by Sunderland in a single day and immediately signalled a new sense of belief among supporters after the pair's arrival.
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But paying out that sort of money in such a short space of time is something Johnson has been used to hearing about in the last two and-a-half years.
During his time at Manchester City there was constant talk of deals being in the pipeline, with the likes of Sergio Aguero (£38m), Samir Nasri (24m) and Gael Clichy (£7m) just three of those to have moved to the Etihad.
It is with those sort of figures in mind that Johnson thinks it is unfair to even consider Sunderland are ready to make inroads towards the top four after owner Ellis Short sanctioning the record double deal.
"With City everyone knew where they were going," said Johnson, whose return to the Etihad with his new club ended in a 3-0 defeat last Saturday.
"It's not that drastic a change at Sunderland. The club is progressing but a bit slower. City went out and bought Robinho (for £32.5m on deadline day 2008) and people like that and straight away it was pretty clear what they were going to be about.
"Here at Sunderland this is a club progressing quickly, the players are coming in and gelling as a team, but it does not feel like when I was at City.
"We were unbeaten before the City game which is not too bad. It was all change at City when I signed there and things have moved fast for them. Very fast. It has paid off for them too because they won the Premier League in May."
When Sunderland head in to the Wear-Tyne derby with Newcastle United on October 21, Fletcher will be the second top scorer in the Premier League this season.
His five goals have only been bettered by Newasttle's Demba Ba and the Scotland international has already shown enough in front of goal to make Sunderland more dangerous this season.
If Johnson can return from international duty with England unscathed then the two's link up will be something Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will be keen to keep quiet.
Johnson has already been impressed with the Sunderland target-man. He said: "Steven's been unbelievable since he signed. Nobody expected him to be this good straight away.
"He's a goalscorer and that's what a team wants. If he doesn't do anything all game and scores a goal to win you the game that's enough for me. He wins points. He's in the right place at the right time. He will continue scoring goals."
* Billy Knott is the latest Sunderland youngster to head out on loan. The 19-year-old midfielder has gone to Conference side Woking on a month's loan. He spent much of last season with AFC Wimbledon., where he won the young player of the year award.