LJ PRE OLDHAM ATHLETIC (EFL TROPHY)



Lee Johnson has spoke ahead of his first proper game in charge, after meeting the lads and holding a training session with them rather than walking into the dugout just hours before kick off. The new head coach will see Sunderland travel to League 2 Oldham Athletic where he’ll be looking for his first win.


The gaffer reflects on the weekend and looks ahead

"Looking back on Saturday's game, we were the better side but we didn't deserve to win, if that makes sense, I think the opposition came with an organised game plan, were full of enthusiasm and endeavour, and we didn't have the craft to break them down. The one session I've been able to have before the game tomorrow was about that. We were trying to embed some almost statistical principles, that 'if you do this you have a better chance of scoring'. Watching the game back, the frustrating thing was that we didn't disrupt their back four anywhere near enough in and around the middle of the goal. So today a lot of work was done on the centre forwards getting across the near post, making sure we fill dangerous goal scoring areas. There were too many occasions where deliveries were coming into the box and maybe there were only one or two players in the box. In a 4-3-3, and an attacking one like we played, we should be able to get at least four in the box. Sometimes five, six. I was pleased I took the game because it made it absolutely crystal clear to me what we needed to work on. I am a coach and I look forward to trying to improve those various parts of our game. It doesn't phase me, that's where the coach comes in. I felt we lacked a bit of personality on the pitch, and that's the bit I want to really, deeply look into. Is that pressure, or is just the fact I turned up and everything is different? I wanted to take the game to get a feel for the dressing room and learn about the individuals as quickly as possible. It was slightly subdued and it's up to me to encourage the players to be creative, because they are good players for the level."


The boss on the squad and transfers

"When the injuries come back and we get one or two additions to help in January, I really think we'll be in a good place. That's the absolute truth. I'm quite well-travelled in terms of the case-studies I have done over the years and I have looked a lot into that European model, if you like, and it's something I am very comfortable with, decisions are made more as a collective now than they were back in the day when my dad, say, was a manager - then it was just manager and probably chairman. Now a lot of recruitment at clubs this size is data-driven, not in terms that you sign players purely off the data, but it becomes a small world because there is so much data to incorporate into the recruitment process. When you are pitching to the ownership about a new signing, there are so many areas of value that come into it. There's value on the pitch, there's value in terms of the wage you are paying the player, there's asset value, and we have to try and get the balance between those things for players we sign or for those who come through the academy, and then also add value. At a club like Sunderland where there is high expectation, we have to deliver in all areas and I think it is too big a job now for one man to be able to do. Character, in a football sense, is such a broad word. You have the Kevin Ball-type character, who was a fantastic player for this football club, strong, a leader, a warrior, a good footballer, tough, and then you have a player who is a character in his goal scoring or perhaps he isn't the biggest tackler in the world, but he is willing to take the ball under pressure when there are 30-35,000 grumbling fans. I want to see that character in action, and I want to see the individuals bring the absolute best version of themselves on a match day I feel that that has been a little bit suppressed for whatever reason, and I said that to the players after the game. If they bring the best versions of themselves and if we add a little bit - not a lot - in January, then I feel we will be on the right path to success."


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