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Lee Johnson took a swig from Sunderland’s poison chalice - who will be next?

“Sunderland have gone through managers at an alarming rate in the last decade. The sacking of LJ feels oddly timed but necessary following Saturday’s horror show” says Paddy Hollis.

Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

A wet and windy Sunday night was rudely interrupted by news that Lee Johnson had been sacked as Sunderland boss.

His sacking has, overall, come as a bit of a shock. Yet following the abysmal 6-0 drubbing at Bolton, maybe it shouldn’t be so much of a surprise.

Johnson had just over a year in charge of SAFC, and in both the second half of last season and the first half of this he had fans believing that a promotion charge could end in joy instead of misery.

Yet on both occasions, despite playing good football at times, we have stalled and lost ground on promotion rivals.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

It wasn’t all Johnson’s fault, the players must at least take some of the blame for their struggles on the pitch, but it feels as though he has fallen victim to arguably one of the most thankless jobs in English football.

Many managerial positions in the game can come within the category of ‘poisoned chalice’ but few come with greater expectation that the SoL hotseat.

Once Sunderland replace Johnson, we will have had 11 permanent managers in the last nine years. We are allergic to committing to a manager and a blueprint, and we have dispatched another manager who has failed to get us out of the division.

I love this club, but I have to ask the question of can we really expect to have respectable managers lining up to throw their hat in the ring? It’s something I can’t see happening.

Our apparent merry-go-round policy of the last decade can easily suggest either we don’t give the right people enough time, or we appoint the wrong people and only realise this when it’s too late.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Chris Vaughan - CameraSport via Getty Images

Johnson falls into either category depending on your own view, for me it’s still undecided. Under his leadership, Sunderland played some of the most aesthetically pleasing football I’ve seen in the last five years. There might not be much competition, but going to the SoL has felt like less of a chore when watching a Lee Johnson side.

That might not mean much, but after two and a bit years of watching Jack Ross and ‘Parky ball’ (shudder) it was nice to enjoy my team play again.

I really wanted Johnson to succeed, not just for the obvious reason, but because it felt as though he genuinely believed he could make a success of his time here.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, and we now start the search for the next poor soul who will attempt to get us out of this wretched league.

Many managers in the last decade have brought with them a renewed sense of promise and that things might be different, but whoever replaces LJ is going to have an almighty amount of pressure on his shoulders.

A fifth campaign in League One is something none of us want or even dare think about, but the pulling power of the ownership will be tested with our next managerial appointment.

This next week will be huge in seeing if we are capable of replacing LJ with someone who could genuinely get us into the top two.


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