Thomas Sandgaard has defended his decision to sack Charlton Athletic manager Johnnie Jackson – and says he is aware that his call has provoked criticism from some of the fanbase.
The US-based Danish businessman parted company with the club’s former captain, 39, on Tuesday.
Sandgaard had previously been adamant that Jackson, who took over from Nigel Adkins in September when the Addicks were in the relegation zone, would continue in his role next season.
But Charlton’s 4-0 loss at Ipswich Town last weekend – a result which saw the club finish 13th in League One – proved to be his final match at the helm.
Asked if he looked at reaction from supporters over his decision to remove Jackson, Sandgaard replied: “Of course, that’s massively important – what the fans think about what we’re doing. We follow that pretty closely. But I don’t get too emotional about it.
“I fully understand why some people are very surprised and maybe disappointed that Johnnie did not get an extra chance of another season.
“I understand that especially in light of how popular he has been as a player and, early on, as a manager that people would express some frustrations. I really like Johnnie.
“But there are the fans who understand that maybe we could do better in terms of how we show up at games, the formation we play, our flexibility if a game develops differently to what we expected – how quickly can we transform and adjust to those things? Substitutions etc, there are many things that some fans have picked up on that maybe we could do differently.”
Neither Adkins and Jackson lasted longer than seven months – the former’s tenure including the close-season break.
First-team coach Terry Skiverton, tempted away from Yeovil after a 23-year career at Huish Park, has also been dismissed.
“Two relatively short stints for [Charlton’s last two] managers,” said Sandgaard. “It’s obviously something we don’t want as a club, but you can’t just passively continue to see what we were watching happen.
“You want stability. We need to try and see if we can get it in all corners of the club, also on the business side. I keep making improvements to make us more stable and also more financially sustainable, that’s also important to me.
“When Nigel came in we had a great run and nearly made it to the play-offs, except for the goal difference. I was very optimistic going into the season, but we had a poor pre-season – so he was definitely handicapped from that point of view.
“Even with some strong additions to the squad it didn’t seem to help. I couldn’t really be patient any more – we needed something different. In that context we got Johnnie in as caretaker and started winning all those games. I guess we were all excited, that maybe we had something here that could be long term?
“As we know there was a coincidence, as soon as we got the contract signed then we didn’t do so well. We had several games we won in a row and then lost a lot. We also lost to teams we probably should not have lost to. A little bit of bad luck came into it, but it was also the way we showed up with formation and responded to what was going on.”
The South London Press had been told that one player due to be out-of-contract this summer claimed he was told in the past couple of weeks that his situation could not be progressed in case a new manager might not fancy him.
Sandgaard said: “I’m very well aware of that incident. We very quickly managed it.
“It was a rumour that started by that player in the dressing room and it spun out of control. It was very upsetting for Johnnie Jackson.
“It was one particular player’s interpretation of why we were holding off on maybe not immediately extending a contract.
“It was triggered by the frustration of a player, or maybe even his agent, and how the information was dealt with in terms of asking your agent to be patient because we’re still working to sort out the squad for next season.
“Within less than a day we had it under control.”
Jackson has yet to publicly comment since his departure.
He is away on a short break which had been pre-planned.
Sandgaard has admitted that making the decision now makes the compensation smaller than if a change had been made once the 2022-23 campaign started.
When the contract was first drawn up it had a top-eight clause which would again have been a factor in any pay-off.
Sandgaard said: “When Johnnie got put in as caretaker, it was simply because we didn’t have anyone in place to follow Nigel Adkins from the outside. It was a natural thing to do, while we looked at potential candidates. While we were doing that he had a run of a lot of wins, including a first very important one up at Sunderland.
“I don’t think anybody would expect me to have appointed another manager at that time.
“His results got him the permanent job. Results since then have been very up and down and placed us in the middle of the table.
“There was a sort of breaking point in his contract where we would look at how well did we do this season? Would we want to extend for another full season, and possibly after that with an option to extend for another year?
“So there wasn’t really any pressure for me to start looking for another manager until we got to the end of this season. Then it was time to take a look at whether we wanted another season.
“I think we can get something different. We’re all hoping for something better that can start building for eventually getting promoted.
“The compensation would be a little different if I did it at another time. That was the natural point to start working out what we want to do for next season.
“Unfortunately I had to do it by phone [tell Jackson he was not staying]. I wasn’t able to [do it] between the last game of the season, then the Player of the Year dinner on Sunday and I had to be back in the US the following day, so I couldn’t really change the timing.
“It’s better than just reading about it on social media but I normally do that kind of thing in person, face to face.
“At least I got the chance to talk to Johnnie about it by phone.”
Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon, 50, has been an early link to the Charlton vacancy. He was appointed head coach of Cypriot side AC Omonia at the start of March.
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