Chris Powell is rooting for Johnnie Jackson to make a success of his shot at the Charlton Athletic manager’s job.
Jackson and his assistant Jason Euell have made an impressive start since being appointed in a caretaker capacity, taking seven points from a possible nine to climb out of the League One drop zone as well as booking their place in the second round of the FA Cup.
Powell knows both men well. He appointed Jackson as Charlton’s new captain before the 2011-12 season, the squad going on to storm to the League One title.
And it was also Powell’s call to bring Euell back to SE7 at the start of the same campaign after the South Londoner, in the latter stages of an impressive career, had been released by Blackpool.
Jackson, now 39, scored 13 goals in 39 appearances for the Addicks as they finished on 101 points – eight clear of Sheffield Wednesday.
The fact that Jackson wore the armband and played with such distinction, netting 55 times in 279 matches, has ensured total backing from the club’s fanbase since he replaced Nigel Adkins.
Asked about handing Jackson the captaincy, Powell told the South London Press: “It was one of the best decisions I ever made as Charlton manager, that’s for certain.
“We had a great time as a football club then. It was a big call because it was a new broom, a new start, a new vision – and I needed to make sure someone was leading that on the field.
“I felt the fans needed to connect with the team again, which they have done now with John and Jason.
“He was the right person. It was out of him and Matt Taylor at the time. Matt had been skipper at Exeter, Danny Hollands had been skipper at Bournemouth and I had a potential captain in Michael Morrison, I knew he was captain material. But Jacko had been at the club and I knew the fans liked him even though it had been a tough last season.
“He led by example, more in just how he played. That was a bit similar to me back in the day – you don’t always have to be vocal, you can lead in many different ways. He had an authority on the pitch – almost ‘give me the ball and I’ll get you out of trouble’. He did that a few times. That can inspire his team-mates and inspire the crowd. It did.
“He revelled in it. He really enjoyed being the captain. Seeing him lift the trophy was a big moment. We got on really well even though he’s a Gooner and I’m a Spurs fan. We always joke about that, it’s kept the connection – even to this day.”
Powell, who has been part of the England coaching team since September 2019, revealed the pair spoke before this summer’s European Championships.
“It was for one of his projects for his Pro License,” explained Powell. “We spoke for about 45 minutes. I was in camp.
“It was about the role of an assistant manager. He wanted to get more knowledge about certain aspects of the role. That just shows continued development and learning. He wanted to be better in that position, but ultimately he has ambitions to be the number one.
“I also remember having a text conversation with him after the 3-2 win over Bristol Rovers [Jackson took the team after Lee Bowyer quit]. They had to come back from 2-0 down, and I said: ‘Welcome to the world of first-team football’. He has got the character and personality to settle everyone down.
“Jason has got the coaching ability to get the best out of people. Now it is their time to lead the club out of a really tricky situation.
“Hopefully they will get the opportunity and time to show everyone what they can. It helps the supporters that they have got two guys they know and trust in. It won’t be easy, but definitely with that squad, if they get anywhere near their potential, they shouldn’t be anywhere near that bottom four.
“Now it’s about having a team that is organised and knows what they are doing, on and off the ball. In League One football you have to make sure you have a real organisation about yourselves. You’ve got to be fit and you’ve got to have a style of play that suits your players and you go from there.
“Most managers get a team they can trust and do their job to the best of their ability. If it doesn’t work you bring people off the bench who try and change the game for you.”
Euell stepped up from U23 boss after Adkins succeeded Bowyer to become first-team coach. The 44-year-old from Lambeth was a club-record signing by the Addicks when he moved in a £4.75million transfer from Wimbledon. In total he accrued 170 matches in two spells, scoring 38 times.
Initially Euell had returned just to keep fit as he looked for his next step after leaving the Seasiders. He had not been part of a transfer hitlist carefully compiled by Powell and then chief executive Peter Varney.
“During that pre-season I recognised the value of him – not only as a player but actually as a senior member who could lead that dressing room along with a new captain, which was Jacko,” said Powell.
“I had a young squad and needed one or two older heads to give that balance. He provided that. I remember speaking to Peter Varney and saying: ‘Listen, it isn’t in the plan of what we are trying to do’. And he said: ‘No, I’ll make it work for you’. Jay was great about it. I told him that I’d kind of got the team in my head but there will be games where you’ll be a big influence around the place, which he always has been.
“At the end of that season we went up and he wasn’t sure whether to continue. We had a frank conversation and he had a look at one or two options. It was Paul Hart [then academy director] who said there is a opportunity to come and coach if you don’t continue your career.
“He came in and started coaching the U16s and absolutely took to it. You could just see, naturally he had a real good way about it.
“He got himself qualified. Jay’s journey is one that a lot of players should follow. He threw himself into it and he wanted to learn and be better.
“It’s taken him now to first-team football but also the England pathway with the U20s. It shows what you can do when you put your heart and soul into coaching. He’s a bright coach who will help Jacko.
“They have the right attributes to, at least in the short term, get the club up and running. Hopefully in turn that will allow them to lead the club in the medium or longer term.”
“I wish the guys well. I really hope they can move the club forward in a real positive way because SE7 needs it – big time.”
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