Craig Gardner has opened his scoring account with Sunderland, and after netting the third goal in the Black Cats’ 4-0 defeat of Stoke, the midfielder says he’s ready to repay Steve Bruce’s faith and keep performing at his best.
Sunderland had collected just two points from four matches before Sunday, and while the club made 12 signings in the summer transfer window, the new faces had failed to translate to results.
But after clocking up a convincing win, Gardner is now confident that he can show Sunderland fans why he was worth the £6 million transfer fee from Birmingham.
"I've come here with a reputation for scoring goals and I'm obviously keen to keep that going," Gardner said.
"It's not just about scoring, I'm very conscious that my overall game performance has to be high as well. But there's no doubt that goals are a big part of what I do and I'm also aware that the club maybe hasn't scored a lot of goals from midfield in the past.
"The club have put faith in me by paying a fair bit of money to sign me from Birmingham, and I don't want to let them down. That means producing on the pitch and scoring goals."
Pundits were surprised by Sunderland’s slow start to the season, with the new-look squad taking more time to settle than anticipated. But Gardiner believes there were always signs that everything was going to fall into place, even when the Black Cats were on the wrong end of a defeat.
"I think we've hinted at what we were capable of in some of the early games," he said.
"But it was nice to bring it all together and produce a pretty good performance.
"It was always going to take a little bit of time. We've brought a lot of new players into the club this summer, and it's never easy to hit the ground running straight away.
"We're not used to playing as a team yet, but I think we're getting there. We've had enough time now and we need to start kicking on."
Sunderland face Norwich on Monday night, and will use the eight days rest between games wisely to keep their wining momentum going.