New boss plans style with substance
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 19 March 2013
NEW manager Lee Johnson wants his Athletic team to entertain the crowd with vibrant, attacking football — starting with tonight’s hugely-important home game against Hartlepool.
Johnson (31) took charge of his first training session yesterday morning and was later revealed to the media as the club’s new boss.
The immediate focus for the Football League’s youngest manager is to gain three points at Boundary Park, to lift the club out of the bottom four.
Having watched several games in recent weeks, Johnson — who has already selected his line-up — believes he knows what it takes to achieve victory.
“I want us to be defensively sound and organised,” he told the Chronicle. “But at the same time, let’s whip up the crowd.
“I was at the Bournemouth game and nothing did that for the first half-hour.
“The successful teams I have been in, we have played at a high tempo with a pressing game. Getting the crowd going makes the players better; there’s a knock-on effect.”
Johnson says improving the players’ fitness, sharpness and methodology is vital. He has been given free rein to bring in players on loan to improve the squad. That process began with Korey Smith’s arrival from Norwich last week. He will also build a new coaching team and has a handful of names in mind to be his assistant.
“I would like to bring in someone with experience and who has been there and done it, to lean on,” said Johnson.
“But I want a good coach who will spend a lot of time with the young players. We have to make sure we are making a conscious effort to improve these players at a dramatic rate, because young players improve very quickly.”
For now he will be helped by Cliff Byrne, Paul Gerrard and Tony Philliskirk.
Johnson, who left Kilmarnock earlier this year, turned down seven playing offers to take up the manger’s job with Athletic. He says he will play now only in the reserves.
The former Yeovil and Bristol City player hopes his top-flight ambitions can now be achieved in a new chapter of his career.
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