Johnson goes against advice

Date published: 07 February 2014

SIR Alex Ferguson’s words of wisdom haunt Athletic manager Lee Johnson, he admits.

The former Manchester United boss wrote in his recent autobiography that young managers tend to make the mistake of snapping up players they know.

And Johnson has done exactly that: signings Gary Harkins, Adam Lockwood, James Wilson and Jon Stead are all people he has played alongside at Yeovil, Bristol City and Kilmarnock.

But the crucial point, Johnson argues, is that in his case the four represent value he couldn’t find anywhere else.

“The value we have in those players is immense,” Johnson said. “That wouldn’t be the case had they not known me.

“There is good and bad in it. Sir Alex was saying that with young managers, all they do is sign their friends or people they have played with.

“One thing is, I’m very young as a manager. So I’m not just signing 36 year olds. And I have played across the board, except in the Premier League, and have trained with these players in recent times and know about the levels out there.

“They are better than we have - and for the same, or lower cost. At some point you have to make decisions. Those decisions are not based on whether I know someone, but whether they are going to make my team better.

“But I have always got Sir Alex in the back of my head...”