Lee Johnson took over Sunderland AFC on the 5th December 2020 taking over a depressed club sitting in 8th placed with 23 points. After a great win at the WHAM Stadium during the week, this now takes the club up to 3rd position, 5 points behind 1st placed Hull with 2 games in hand - a complete and utter turnaround from the drab and unconvincing performances under predecessor Phil Parkinson. But... Could Lee Johnson’s turnaround season continue for not just the current season, but years to come?
The Ex-Bristol City manager has been a breath of fresh air at The Stadium Of Light after taking charge, and hasn’t really failed at any club he has managed during his relatively young career.
At the age of 31, Johnson took over Oldham Athletic, making him the youngest manager in the football league, with his first victory coming against Hartlepool. During the 14/15 league one season Johnson took his Oldham side to a top 10 finish, ultimately allowing him to move to Barnsley, and eventually to Championship side Bristol City. At the end of Johnson’s four-year reign at Bristol City the club lost 4 consecutive games and he was dismissed, but his legacy at Bristol City cannot go unnoticed.
The real question is: how can Lee Johnson become a long-term success at Sunderland?
Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has already started to action changes within the club, with the appointment of Kristjaan Speakman to the overhaul of the “asset stripped” academy. Kyril has also expressed his vision of data analysis within the club to help determine future signings, as well as opponent scouting - something Lee Johnson is extremely passionate about:
Technology and data are a big part of that in the modern game. Using video clips for analysis, via a platform like Hudl, is a means of conveying messages and encouraging players to critique their own performances - and those of the team.
Johnson very much thrives on the usage of modern methods to improve his teams and went on further to say the following:
I love data, but it has to service your game model. Stats can be a nightmare, because you can always make them fit your own agenda. In terms of recruitment, they’re brilliant for flagging players early, who we might not have been able to identify with the human eye...
And data makes the world a smaller place, because you can get detailed information on players all over the world. But you need to give it context.
I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point in the relatively near future there’s a robot manager, with subs made based on physical and technical data. ‘If player x comes on, your expected goals will go up 4%.’ Someone will try it, genuinely.
Our club now has structure, a plan, and financial backing.
Johnson seems to fit the bill in every way for the new project with results seemingly to now fall into place. As of writing, we sit in 3rd with 63 points, with Johnson having a 60% win percentage; thus averaging just over 2 points per game, resulting in a minimum of 94 points if a full 46 games had been played.
Our gaffer’s start to Sunderland life has gone extremely well, with the club’s morale at the highest it has been in a very long time, as well as good results and clean sheets being picked up in almost every game. Can this start continue and see SAFC promoted?
Let’s hope so!