BY TOBY PORTER
Caretaker boss Johnnie Jackson has been singled out as a possible future manager pretty much throughout his career.
He was one of those players who gave his all on the pitch – Johnson’s previous bosses would testify to that.
He led by example and also helped all those around him by offering guidance and being straight with his teammates.
The former Spurs, Colchester United and Notts County utility player first joined Charlton’s backroom staff under manager Karl Robinson in June 2017, and retired at the end of the 2017-18 season.
It is testimony to his commitment to the club that he has not gone elsewhere to get his opportunity.
So what is it about him which has caused them to be singled out so regularly, albeit without actually getting the top job?
He’s worn the armband at most of his clubs so just a string of managers have singled him out.
Why does he think that is? “I’ve been captain at most of my clubs, so there is that leadership side to my game,” he said. “I’ve always had those qualities about me. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I am also passionate and and that will come across to the players.
“That will hopefully make it easier for me to mould the squad of players in that image. I want them to play with that level of commitment.
“I am also a student of the game. I watch a lot of football and I’m keen to learn and broaden my horizons.
“I have done all my badges. I like to think I’ve got some tactical awareness. But it’s not just tactics which is needed for a role in leadership.
“It is also about motivation – and how you deal with getting performances out of people. I like to think I’m a good people person and build relationships with players. It is about showing them you believe in what they are capable of doing.”
How he will handles things was evident in what do he told the players before Saturday’s game.
“I just told them that they all had a clean slate,” he said. “We had not been good enough up to that point.
“But it was a chance for them to turn things around. I said that playing at Sunderland is one of the great contests against a great opponent and all our players should relish being involved in a game there.
“It’s an opportunity for them to showcase what they’re about.
“We need to start to show people we’re better than the performances we had put in, up to that point.”
His commitment to the club was also evident in his reaction to Saturday’s 1-0 win over Sunderland.
He was obviously happy about it – you’ve just got to see the photos to know that.
There was both relief and triumph written all over his face. But he singled out one his players for praise in the press conference after the game.
Midfielder George Dobson, who had not played for six matches until Saturday, after arriving from the Stadium of Light.
But he was pivotal in the victory against his former side.
But he cautioned his players afterwards that one win was just the beginning. “I told them that we have now set ourselves a standard,” said Jackson. “They have shown what they are capable of – they have shown the desire and the spirit we need.
“But they have also shown the supporters that we can be a team that they can get behind.
“All that comes with hard work and great determination. But it has to be in every game – not just now and again. I said ‘well done’ to them.
“But this is just the beginning and they need to maintain that standard.
“It was a nice train journey back, though. It helps when you have won. It was certainly a lot better than previously – if you’ve lost that’s a long journey back. Victory also makes your Sunday at home a lot better.”
Jackson found out about Nigel Adkins’ departure along with all the rest of the squad on Thursday when owner Thomas Sangaard brought them all together and told them all at the same time.
Jackson said: “ I’ve been in football long enough and so has Nigel Adkins to know that we are in a result business and when results don’t come it’s normally the manager that ends up being the fall guy. It would not have been a shock to Nigel.
“I felt disappointment for him. He’s a good man and I have a lot of respect for him.
“It is a strange one though – you know you are not completely blameless yourself in what has gone on so far this season. But it’s still the manager that is sacrificed.”
What kind of football will Charlton play under the 39-year-old?
One of the things that Jackson wants to keep close to his chest is what formation he prefers.
“I don’t want to divulge that,” he said. “You have to be adaptable. I do have ideas of how I like to set up a team. And I have a clear vision of the things that I want from my team. But I’m not going to scream it to the clubs we are up against.”
Jackson’s managerial heroes are instructive about the style he may adopt in the coming weeks.
Tottenham Hotspur boss David Pleat – who was respected throughout the industry for his coaching ability – gave Jackson his debut at Spurs.
“He is always someone I’ve had a fondness for because of that,” said Jackson. “But you have to admire the Pepe Guardiolas and the Jurgen Klopps. They are the benchmark by which we are all judged.
“Growing up, I was an Arsenal fan and George Graham was one of my first heroes. When he went to Arsenal he had a lot of success.
“How he had his back four and the work he did with them. I know that there was the chant of ‘One-nilto the Arsenal’.
“But it showed that he knew what he was doing. I would definitely like to take inspiration from him.
“But soon after, Arsene Wenger took over and he revolutionized English football.
“You have to admire managers like him who have had longevity. I respect all managers – and especially ones that managed to stay a long time.
“Obviously the game has changed a lot since then but they are some of my first heroes.”
Jackson now has the chance to emulate some of those managers – and become a hero himself to fans.
He knows all too well that it will, of course, depend on results.
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