Charlton AthleticSport

Karl Robinson: Johnnie Jackson needs time to build at Charlton Athletic – continuity is crucial

Karl Robinson has talked about the benefits of Johnnie Jackson being given time as Charlton Athletic manager.

The former Addicks boss brings his Oxford United side to The Valley tomorrow. The Liverpudlian made Jackson player-coach when he was in charge in SE7.

Jackson has an 18-month contract with the option of another year. We reported earlier today that Charlton’s league finish would set the level of severance if owner Thomas Sandgaard was to make a change.

The club’s former captain has only had 26 matches as boss – one of those as caretaker last season before Nigel Adkins’ appointment – and Robinson feels it is vital he is able to learn on the job.

Robinson told the South London Press: “It’s so important to have continuity. I don’t know Thomas but I believe there is a lot of positivity around the club. But equally, at the same time, none of us know what is in that contract in relation to what a break clause looks like. You hear managers getting ‘x’ amount of years but the severance package can only be six months. The one thing I’ve always tried to do is go to a football club and work with people – bring the youth team players through, create continuity – which fundamentally helps the community aspect as well.

“It allows you to immerse yourself in what that football club stands for. There is no other person out there, other than Johnnie Jackson, who I feel can do that. I am biased, obviously, because I think the world of him. He is a good coach, he is going through a big learning curve – his first time as manager – and he is going to make mistakes. They have to be accepted. The mistakes he makes today will make him a better manager tomorrow.

“What frustrates me is what people see as failure? Well, if you’re a good manager and a good person you learn from those mistakes and become better for the consequences of them. It’s like a young player who makes a mistake in a game, I almost celebrate them. Because it is all part of them learning – you put them in to make mistakes, I know that sounds a bit weird. Because you see what they are actually made of when they come back at you. And management is not too dissimilar.

Oxford United manager Karl Robinson during a post match interview after the final whistle in the Sky Bet League One match at The Valley, London.

“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of games as a manager and I’m really embarrassed at some of the things I’ve done but I don’t seem to make them again because I seem to have learned from them, other than argue with referees.

“This should be the time when all the kids get played, once they are safe. Find out what works, what formation works. If you look at when I came in [at Charlton], around November time, as soon as we knew we were safe and couldn’t get in the play-offs it was all about playing some of the younger kids – the Joe Aribos and the Ezri Konsas. We’d just sold Ade [Lookman] in that window.

“We had to find out what was needed in the summer. I know I moved on in the March, but that was the team that got into the play-offs in that second year. I honestly put it down to us not being competitive the season before and having a full summer to plan and prep. The year after Bow [Lee Bowyer] had everything in place he needed to at least compete at the top end of it.

“This is a big, big moment for Charlton. Jacko has to be there next season and start planning now for that.

“[Longevity] is massive. If you look at how great Bow was for the football club, he had a year with me and then he had a number of years at the club – he had success. If Lyle Taylor had stayed fit they would still have been in the Championship and Bow would probably still be there.”

Charlton are facing at least a three-season stay in England’s third tier. Last time around they came close to the play-offs, missing out on goal difference to Robinson’s Oxford. Now they are 14 points behind sixth-placed Plymouth. The Addicks were fighting at the wrong end of the table when Jackson took the managerial reins.

Asked about them struggling, Robinson said: “So were Sheffield Wednesday at stages, so were Bolton and we were two or three years ago and we’ve now been in the play-offs for two consecutive seasons. For a club like Oxford, we’re almost dancing with the wrong partner every year. At training the other day we were looking at the teams below us  – Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, Bolton, Ipswich – these are giants at our level. I put Charlton probably above all of them.

“It wasn’t a season to be disrespectful or disillusioned by shortfall. I know what people are spending and it’s almost gone out of control in League One in a crazy way. Even at Oxford we’re spending more than we’ve ever spent because that is what you have to do – just to stay in the top 10, not to get out of the league.

“When I was there [at Charlton] and there was continuity into Bow, that’s when we got out of the league. Bow had great ideas and changed so many things. At no stage was it ever because of me but there was continuity in the people who worked around the building – Stevie Gallen, Johnnie Jackson, Lee Bowyer and myself – that helped stability.

“When I was there we had Foxy, Kevin Foley, Johnnie, Jordan Botaka, Nicky Ajose, Lee Novak and Ricky Holmes, who was injured when I first got there, Ademola Lookman, Teixeira – Nabby Sarr was out on loan somewhere with Ahmed Kashi – it was all over the place. I never saw Igor Vetokele kick a ball in two years! This is not being negative towards players – it was part of the amount of managers they had in a short period of time. There were so many good players that couldn’t really form anything because they were brought in by different people.”

Jackson has credited Robinson with helping his transition from playing to coaching – which was not without resistance from the then Addicks skipper.

It makes the latter laugh when he is asked for his recollection.

“When I went into Charlton I think they’d had about seven managers in two years and the lack of continuity and the amount of signings every one made was almost increasing the age of the squad and the amount of foreign players playing in League One and the Championship who didn’t really have the best interests of the football club at heart. Part of my remit was that I had to reduce the age and bring younger players through.

“The problem is you’ve got the likes of Johnnie Jackson, who was everything to the football club and the fans, a real talent who I had managed against loads. I thought ‘this is one person I can’t get rid of’. Age catches us all up, even though Jacko still thinks he is Benjamin Button! Unfortunately the legs start to deteriorate.

“I knew he had an unbelievable eye for the game as a player. And he was really inquisitive when it comes to tactics and why we’re doing things and for what reason. It was the perfect solution. For me not being a Charlton person either, and from there, part of the integration for me to make it easier was to bring Charlton people around me that knew the club and what fans would expect of them.”

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