Leave no stone unturned - Big Joe
Reporter: MATTHEW CHAMBERS
Date online: 24 January 2014
FANS’ favourite Big Joe Royle says neither Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger nor Sir Alex Ferguson could do a better current job at Athletic than Lee Johnson.
The legendary former boss said he backs Johnson’s blueprint for success in trying circumstances.
Royle, who has watched three of Athletic’s games this season, sympathises with the difficulties the 32-year-old rookie is facing — namely, the problem of unearthing prolific strikers.
Adam Rooney, Athletic’s second-top scorer with seven goals this season, completed a move to Aberdeen yesterday on a two and a half year contract, following his release from Boundary Park.
His departure gives Johnson a sizeable wage to play with - albeit without a target in mind - ahead of tomorrow’s important home game against Peterborough.
“The team is playing well with good, attractive football, but needs that vital ingredient — a striker to put the ball in the net,” said Royle. “I think back to when we had Andy Ritchie and Frank Bunn up front. That served as the catalyst for our whole success.
“My philosophy is the same as always: you are only as good or as bad as your front players.
“I know Lee Johnson is a very hard-working manager, who believes in a good brand of football. He has to keep doing what he is doing and look under every stone. We would look at local, youth and reserve-team football. We prided ourselves that we knew everything about every player around.
“You hear people say the manager has to change. But if Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex came in, I doubt they would alter fortunes dramatically. Lee is a young, promising manager.”
Johnson himself said his shopping options in and beyond the transfer window will be determined by a number of factors.
“There isn’t a panic - the loan window opens again a week later,” said Johnson. “Different things go into it. Money, people taking our players and getting replacements, and no doubt we have had some interest in our players.”
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