LJ: I WANT TO WIN IT



Lee Johnson would love to be the Sunderland manager to break the cycle and win a Wembley cup final for the first time since 1973.


TRUST

"It would mean a lot to me, and not just on a personal level. It would be for everybody because as one of the leaders of an organisation you are just doing your bit. You come in every day, you work hard, you try to improve the team, you bring your skill-set, but inevitably the players have to buy in to it, they have to perform, they have to deal with the pressures, the egos, the opposition. And I have trust and belief in the squad that they can produce that. I want these players to look at it and say 'alright, we might be a small part of a club with a big history, but in 20 or 30 years time we want to be seen as a successful squad'. We have got players like Jack Diamond and others who have come through the youth system, and their pictures will be on the wall at the Academy. We ask the players to be brave and courageous and I think this is a showcase for our philosophy and our game, and to see that it can work when it matters most."


COHESION

"Some people look down on this cup competition but I think that's unfair. Where we are, you want to prove that you are the best team in Leagues One and Two, and also better than the U21 teams of the top sides in the country. For a player in the lower leagues, and we are currently in the third division of the pyramid, it might be your only chance to get to Wembley. The ones who haven't played for Sunderland at Wembley have got a chance to do something very, very special. And for me this competition became really important for a number of reasons. Firstly to build cohesion within the team, almost using the early games as extended training sessions. Then secondly as the competition progresses to the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final, it becomes a chance to win silverware and whether you are a player or a manager at a football club, nobody should ever turn their nose up at that. We have to fight really hard to bring this trophy home."


IMPORTANT

"It's another game, it's an important game because there is something on it, and my take on important games is that I want as many as possible because if you have a lot of important games then it means you're either successful, or you are giving yourself the chance to be successful. I expect a lot of important games, that's what we want at Sunderland, whether it be youth cups, first-team wins, cups, and trophies - it has to be the norm really, for where we want to go. I won the Scottish League Cup with Kilmarnock and we beat Celtic in the final. We were 18-1 on the day in a two-horse race! That just goes to show that even the mighty Celtic could be downed by Kilmarnock. So we can't afford to be complacent. It could be a great day for us but the concentration has to be on winning the match, first and foremost."


NO FANS

"It's something that we're not happy about but, at the same time, it has become par for the course because of the situation. But we feel their support, definitely, from afar. It's difficult times for everybody at the moment, and we're actually very lucky to go into work and see our friends every day. We want to perform and try to give our fans back just a little bit of happiness, but that can only happen if we come back with the trophy. A big part of me coming here, and wanting to come here, was to experience the fans. It's somewhere between a passion and a religion, isn't it? That's how it feels. Hopefully, if we perform well, then we can start out on a journey with silverware and that would bring everybody onside and it would be a very powerful thing on a matchday when fans are allowed back in."