Lee Johnson has been analysing his first ten days on Wearside, in which time he’s overseen a whirlwind four games, including tonight’s encounter with Wimbledon. "You have to get buy-in from the players, any coach or manager needs to build a rapport with the players, and they need to feel that you actually know what you are talking about," said Johnson, whose side faces AFC Wimbledon at the Stadium of Light tonight. And they need to see it happening, because seeing is believing whether that be for the fans or for the players. That's why it was such an important performance for us, because the lads have now seen it working so it is not just airy fairy talk. They have to bring that character into action and produce on the day, because once the players cross that white line there is very little that a coach can do aside from maybe give a little bit of detail from the sidelines. What we want is the alignment from the board to the coaching staff to the players to the fanbase to the media. We need to build up an identity, and then when we get fans back into the ground we then have to play up to that identity. And if we do that, this club at this level should be a really powerful beast."
The gaffer is still on a high following the 4-0 at Lincoln. He said: "I'm very happy that there's a buzz after the weekend. The fans have to be allowed to do whatever they want - if they want to get carried away with the euphoria of a particular result or run, brilliant; if they want to be pessimistic then that's OK too, because the club belongs to the fans and we understand that. I'm here in charge but it is so simple for me, it has to be about the process. I can't guarantee a scoreline, but what I should be able to guarantee is a consistency of philosophy. I've only been here ten days but I was very enthused by the way the players have taken on board all the detail and been able to implement it so quickly, in what was clearly a difficult game at this level when you look at Lincoln's league position. That's very encouraging moving forward, but we have to keep on chipping away at it. They did 85 percent of what I asked them to do, and we have to keep on raising that bar."
LJ also hinted that AFC Wimbledon would be delighted with a point tonight. "A draw for most teams in this division, at the Stadium of Light, is a good result. We're seen as a scalp, a managerial scalp, a playing squad scalp, and we have to be strong enough mentally and physically to cope with that 10 percent extra that sides might give against us. That's all part of what you need to be successful at this level, and we should be quite honoured in a way to have that pressure on us."