I was one of the fans that wasn’t particularly taken in by the ‘management speak’ at first, but I’ve grown to learn that his way of doing things works in modern football.
I love the way he wants to constantly improve both himself and players; I love the way he isn’t scared of a challenge; I love the way he embraces modern coaching methods and the use of young players. He’s a breath of a fresh air, really.
I don’t know what his ceiling is as a coach, but for the time being, I think he’s the perfect manager for the way we’re trying to operate, and that’s fine by me.
Sunderland are destined for the Premier League but how long it takes to get there is a total unknown at this stage. I’d love nothing more for our club to keep a manager around long-term who can build a squad over many years, and I think Johnson could be that man.
He knows he has to get us promoted this season, and I am confident that he’ll do it, but we have to do it in the right way. And at the moment, the right way is by playing good football and utilising our best youngsters in the correct manner.
So far, he’s shown he can do it. I love the way he’s embraced our academy and given the likes of Dan Neil, Elliot Embleton, Anthony Patterson, Ethan Taylor and Jack Diamond opportunities to prove their worth. I love the way he’s just thrown a 17 year old centre half in because he trusts his ability, and I love the way he’s shown faith in the likes of Dennis Cirkin and Thorben Hoffman. And, I love the way he’s given Luke O’Nien a chance in his proper position, and build around Ross Stewart up top.
He’s doing a cracking job - he’s not perfect, but he’s doing very well.
Keep it up Lee!
Phil West says...
I’d like to caveat my contribution to this discussion by freely admitting that I wasn’t initially enamoured with Lee Johnson during his early tenure as Sunderland manager.
Having grown up watching and listening to no-nonsense, abrasive managers like Peter Reid and Mick McCarthy, I felt that Johnson was too breezy, too chirpy, and too reliant on colourful language to fit the role. Our downturn in form towards the end of last season didn’t help, either, and as we went into the summer, I wasn’t entirely convinced that we would be mounting a promotion challenge with him at the helm.
However, the humble pie is now in the oven, and I’ve got a feeling I’ll be chowing down on a slice in the near future. This season so far, with the benefit of his own players and a full pre-season with the squad, Johnson is emerging as a superb manager for our club.
He has fostered a brilliant team spirit among his players, and you can tell that every one of them has fully bought into what he is trying to build.
As an RR colleague said recently, Johnson is very much a modern breed of manager: media-savvy & slightly offbeat, perhaps, but with a clear vision of how he wants football to be played and a highly effective way of passing that ethos on to his players.
I love how he’s also created pathways into the first team for our academy players, and he’s developing a very strong rapport with the fans as well, as shown by his exuberant post-match celebrations. He has grasped the opportunity afforded to him at the Stadium of Light with both hands, and he is rising to the challenge, as opposed to appearing overawed and daunted by the challenge of occupying the SOL dugout, which has been the downfall of many previous Sunderland managers.
He has certainly laid my initial doubts to rest, and if we can continue to build and progress as we are, his already burgeoning reputation will only improve as the season unfolds.
Malc Dugdale says...
The one thing I admire most about Johnson is his totally ground-up revised approach.
He could have been lazy and just tweaked a few things from past managers, both of whom got us pretty close to going up. With Johnson and Speakman, however (as well as with the team around them) they really do seem to have gone back to square one and rebuilt the approach for our promotion out of this league from the ground up.
That takes balls, patience and faith in your own strategy and longer term aims, and the early showing suggests to me (and the club) they were right to feel that way.
Let's not get too carried away, we are only 9 games into a 46 game season, excluding the cup games, but there is in my view reason to be optimistic already. We are playing great footy, creating loads of opportunities more often than not, and we have the best fans in the world now back in the stadium and backing the lads.
This is a step-change in what we have seen for the past 3 seasons, and a step in the right direction, led by Lee.