Matt Smith says...
I liked Lee Johnson the man and wish him well but I never felt he was pivotal to the project. We’ve played some of the best football in years under him, for which he deserves a fair amount of credit, but I’ve always taken the hopeful, maybe even naive, view that the current system lays less store on the head coach role than we’ve traditionally been used to. The remainder of the season will be interesting, to put it mildly.
If his sacking is merely a sop to the ever-persistent Johnson-out brigade, or a knee-jerk reaction to one devastatingly humiliating performance and result, then I fear we’re in big trouble. Throwing the baby out with the bath (or Batth?) water is wildly inconsistent with the long term vision and would suggest a loss of nerve and lack of confidence in a project that has borne sweet fruit but is undoubtedly, at such an early stage, still a work in progress.
Yet Johnson’s sacking is less important than the club’s next move. If the next appointment represents an attempt to roll-back our progressive style of play with an authoritarian, disciplinarian figure, replacing style with steel, then we’re effectively turning back the clock and reversing the positive cultural change that has been embedded over the past year.
I remain hopeful though that we’ll look back on this as the first sign that the new regime has put in place a system that isn’t dependent upon whoever happens to be in the head coach hot seat at any given time. A head coach subservient to the project, rather than a head coach dictating the project, is how I’ve always viewed the current regime. I hope I’m right.
Andrew Smithson says...
Firstly, from a human point of view, I’d like to wish Lee Johnson the best - he comes across as a nice guy that wanted to succeed here, and some of the childish name-calling he got from some sections has been totally unwarranted.
From a football point of view, I think he got a lot of things right, not least overseeing a Wembley win. We have also turned a lot of home draws into wins under Johnson and that was desperately needed. He often spoke well too I thought; I know he got stick for it but if you look beyond some of the vocabulary itself there was a lot of sense in his message’s and we need to remember that is how a lot of people inside the game now talk.
As for where it went wrong, I always feel the players need to take an element of the blame. Although we weren’t losing every week I assume the manner of defeat when we do lose was a major factor in this decision and that is an area both sides needed to try and figure out. Now it is up to the replacement to look at, alongside tightening up on the road and knowing how to handle things when the going gets tough.
It’ll not be until we know who that new coach is before I fully decide whether this is the right decision. It shouldn’t mean a massive overhaul of staff as that is not how we are run now, and I assume that whoever it is will be of a similar mould. With the transfer deadline day in the mix too, we could be set for a very interesting 48 hours.
Matthew Foster says...
After Saturday’s drubbing, I felt this was an inevitability.
I do have a slight twinge of disappointment, as I did like Lee on a general level.
But we simply shouldn’t be getting as many pastings as we have so far, if we have any desire to finish top two.
I genuinely thought the club would stick instead of twist, but KLD obviously felt the timing was right to do it.
It’s a big call to make, and one that could make or break our season.
I dare not look at the favourites for the job, but hopefully the club make the right choice, and we sit at the end of the season not wondering “what if?”.
Martin Wanless says...
Lee Johnson’s sacking comes as a big disappointment to me, and it’s concerning the club reacted so quickly after the Bolton defeat. It seems a knee-jerk response to what was admittedly an awful performance, and that approach doesn’t align with the calm, long-term plan KLD and Speakman are apparently overseeing.
Overall, Johnson’s done a good job, he’s got us generally playing some great football, and yes we’ve had some stuffings but we’ve looked like we’re building a really strong team that was going to get better. We could easily have gone on another run of wins now and this throws everything up in the air to start again. It doesn’t feel right.
What about the players he’s helped bring in, and has nurtured? How will they feel? No one really knows what goes on behind the scenes – the Bolton performance didn’t look like a team playing for the manager, so who knows about that.
Of course, as a head coach he’s not in the role of traditional ‘manager’ so the switch won’t be as major as it once was, but it just shows me that nothing’s really changed at the club. We’ll chop and change managers on a whim, and I just hope we’ve got someone strong lined up, rather than starting from scratch this week and ending up with someone already on the managerial roundabout.
It’s the wrong decision for me, and I’m quite disappointed – but looking forward we need to make sure this is the right decision by making a strong appointment over the coming days.
Mark Carrick says...
I’m always sad when a manager loses his job at Sunderland, but sometimes it’s the right call. For Johnson, the road ran out with a hiding at Bolton, but the warning signs had been there for a while. Losing so badly at Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham, and Portsmouth before yesterday were signs all was not well.
There are obvious pluses from his time here. The squad is far, far better and should rightly be pushing for promotion. Arguably, that is one reason behind his departure. We sit within the pack and a new head coach may yet coax that extra 10% from the players to get us over the line.
There is also the argument that Sunderland have a structure, style, and strategy in place that means any upgrade on a player that becomes available allows us to improve and the same could be said for the coaching staff. I would expect to see someone who buys into the ‘Sunderland way’. Maybe the owners see a rigidity about Johnson that raises a few questions and now a more flexible coach can take Sunderland the next step.
Joseph Tulip says...
I’m absolutely gutted by this announcement and I’ve really been taken aback by it.
I heard some suggestions by fans last night that Johnson could be on his way, but I dismissed that idea outright, on the grounds that I thought LJ had the full support of the club and the owner.
We steadied a bit of a wobble with a 1-0 win over Pompey last week, so it seems as though the decision was based on the extent if yesterday’s defeat at Bolton being the final straw.
Yes Johnson wasn’t perfect, but he was building a project with young players which, for the most part, was working effectively.
Yes we are conceding goals at an alarming rate, but we’re third in the table with time still ahead to push for an automatic spot.
Many people clearly doubted our ability to win promotion under Johnson, but his departure means his project will now be ripped up.
Are we really going to find someone better, with greater credentials to get us promoted?
Will the new head coach be allowed to simply right this season off if he gets off to a slow start?
This strikes very much of the Jack Ross situation. Okay, it’s a different ownership but Ross was replaced with a manager in Phil Parkinson, who had pedigree for succeeding in League One.
That didn’t work out and there are no guarantees that our new head coach will be any better, or indeed as good, as Johnson.
For a decade we’ve pretty much changed managers every year. It has got us nowhere. It is about time we gave these people time to turn our great club around, because short-term decisions are killing us.
Let’s hope KLD has a long-term plan up his sleeve with LJ’s successor.
Kelvin Beattie says...
First of all, I am gutted for Johnson. He had us playing some very attractive football at times and seemed a good fit for the “new Sunderland model”.
The Bolton performance was shocking and the demeanour of the players very concerning for a grizzled veteran like myself… it had the look of a fractured dressing room with a sacking to come!
I had thought our new model included our owner and we would not be going down the oft tread path of the managerial merry-go-round. I hope we can appoint a coach who will fit and facilitate the model. So many good things have happened behind the scenes in a comparatively short period of time - I would be extremely disappointed if the new appointment led to a lurch in another direction.
Hopefully, the next Head coach compliments and facilitates the model/system - if not then we are continuing down the same old path, repeating the same mistakes of old!
Michael Dunne says...
I am not sure how to feel on this one.
I have been a massive fan of Johnson since he came to Sunderland. I thought he had the fight and right approach to running the club. We played some brilliant football under him at times, and I thought we were going in the right direction.
That being said too, we cannot be losing games the way we have in League One, and it probably has happened one time too many for the board.
The question is, was this a knee-jerk reaction, or do the board have someone in mind? We need to have a plan. Otherwise, I think it was the wrong call.