Sunderland's assistant head coach Jamie McAllister has been chatting about teaming up with his old mate, Lee Johnson, at Sunderland
"I've known the gaffer a long time, played alongside him at Hearts and Bristol City, and been friends with him for over 15 years," said McAllister. "He brought me in at Bristol City as U23s coach and then I worked with him at first-team level for four-and-a-half years, so I know exactly how he works and I have a good relationship with him. We both sing from the same song sheet in terms of playing philosophy and style. A few things came up over the summer, I went for a few interviews, and I was offered the Gloucester City job on the Thursday evening. That would have been a job just 45 minutes from my house, a good project, a good opportunity for me to go into management, but when the gaffer phoned me on the Friday morning and said 'pack your bags, we're going to Sunderland', it was too good a chance to turn down. We had been playing a lot of golf and talking a lot over the three or four months we were off, and he said that wherever he went he wanted to bring me in so I always had it in my mind to go and work with him again. We have been successful in the past working together, so hopefully we can go on and build something good here and be successful. The chance to come and work at a club of this size, with the potential it has, the fanbase, was just too good an opportunity to turn down. As soon as you walk in the door here at the training ground, then to the stadium, it's just phenomenal. When you think of the great players, great teams, and great managers that have been here, we just want to get this great club back to where it should be, get the fans back in and get them singing."
McAllister also spoke about how Carl Winchester will fit into our midfield set up. "The gaffer has worked with him at Oldham when he was a young player, so he obviously knows him well," McAllister said. "I've watched lots of videos of him and I've played against him, as well. He's just a tidy footballer, he's athletic, 6ft 1. He can mark, he can play box-to-box as an eight or as a six, sitting dictating because he's got good quality on the ball and a good range of passing. He can put his foot in, as well. It gives us a bit of cover for Grant Leadbitter, who obviously turned 35 the other day, as we have a lot of games coming up. Grant is a top player but he might need a rest somewhere along the way. He's also played right-back as well, which we saw Max Power do really well the other day. It's good to have that flexibility in players. It just adds to the squad, really. It's a new face, more competition, and hopefully he settles in well."
Lee Johnson also chipped in. "After assessing our squad and establishing the profile of midfielder we wanted to bring in, we evaluated all the elements, inclusive of the data, and felt that Carl was the right player to add to our squad,” Johnson said. "He is a good player who is in the prime of his career, and his versatility means he can play in a number of positions, ensuring he will also bring depth to our squad. When he was a young player at Oldham, every top club wanted him, which shows the potential he has always had."
McAllister also gave a fitness update ahead of tonight’s Papa John’s Trophy third round tie with Port Vale. “Dion Sanderson and Carl Winchester are cup-tied for the match, so they won’t be involved,” McAllister said. “Jordan Willis was suffering with an illness over the weekend, but he’s now a lot better and trained Monday – he looks good. It’s potentially a great opportunity for some lads to get a chance to play, and stake their claim for the league games going forward. There are a few little niggles from the weekend, but we’re managing them and it’s about getting the right balance to have enough to get through.”