Johnson seeks a new ‘dynamic’
Lee Johnson says he needs to find a ‘different dynamic’ for his side in the transfer market after their latest draw in League One.
Sunderland were held to a 1-1 draw by Hull City to leave them tenth in the table, still eight points adrift of Saturday’s opponents.
A d e a l t o s i g n Fo r e s t Green Rovers midfielder Carl Winchester is complete, and Johnson will now turn his attentions to strengthening other areas of the pitch.
J o h n s o n w o u l d n’ t b e drawn on which area is his priority, but he has clearly been left frustrated by his side’s attacking play in recent weeks.
The salary cap will make his search a challenging one as he looks to the firepower his side is so clearly lacking.
“I t’s s t i l l t h e c a s e t h at we’re confident one is near,” Johnson said, prior to Sunday’s confirmation of Winchester’s arrival.
“I do think we need something. I think we need a change of dynamic in a certain area of the pitch, although I don’t want to go into it any further.
"That will be the bit that will be most difficult for us – because of financial headroom that we have or haven’t got, or might have to create, and also because of the backlog of various injuries that we’ve got. For me, that one will be important.
“We’re trying very hard. “We’ve got lists on lists on lists, but they’ve got to be available, accessible, affordable and match fit, otherwise what’s the point in signing them?
"There’s so many games that if it takes them a month to get match fit, then they’ll miss nine games.
"O bviously th ey’re n ot easy to get. You’re either taking a chance with a young pup that hasn’t played and is at Premier League level, or you’re going and trying to recruit someone on a permanent, which is difficult for us because of the salary cap headroom.
"But you d o n’ t get a job when you’re top of the league and absolutely flying,
so we’ve got to hustle in this period and we’re ready to go with that.
"If we can’t get anything, then we go with what we’ve got and we might need to try (Lynden) Gooch in the nineand-a-half role and get some goals out of him in that area. I thought he did well there today.”
Johnson was pleased with his side’s improvement in the second half against Hull, but echoed his comments at Northampton Town when making clear that he wants more from some of his players.
The head coach feels the mentality of his squad needs to improve in certain areas, with the Black Cats battling to keep their promotion ambitions alive after this latest, frustrating result.
"We worked extremely hard against a good side,” Johnson said.
“I thought Hull had the
better of the first half and we had the better of the second half.
“We have a couple who need to do more, if I'm honest, we need to show that devilment for 96 minutes.
“I thought our reaction to the transition was outstanding, the press. We won it back a lot within six seconds, even if that sometimes came from us giving it away.
“There's still a bit to do and I think I've got to show my teeth a bit now, and demand that execution in the final third.
“Our set pieces, for example, weren't good enough, so that's something to improve on.
“T h e l ad s a re s h ow i n g maximum effort, which does give us a good opportunity to turn those draws into wins.
“The workrate was there, but in my head, there’s a couple that aren’t showing elite mentality.
“It’s not through a lack of willing to win, it’s almost a confidence-swing thing. One minute it’s a four, then it’s a nine, then it’s a four, then it’s a nine – but I’m saying, ‘No, we need be consistent with e i g ht , n i n e, e i g ht , s e ve n’. There’s too many things that affect people – ‘I’m a little bit tired today’ or ‘I’ve got a sniffle’ or ‘I’ve missed a chance’ or ‘I’ve missed that header’.
“We have to find ways to influence each other and bring our best game out. We have to find ways to influence the game, and be better with our game management in various moments of the match.
“I thought we were much better in the second half. We turned them, and got Goochy in and around Charlie (Wyke), who was busy. That then allowed the back four to get up a bit more, and we played quicker, forward.
“At the moment, we’re burning too many situations. Midfielders need to receive and quic kly play forward because then that gives us a chance to win it higher up the pitch, which we’ve been doing extremely well. It’s ying and yang.
“We’ve been doing the energy and discipline, and barring mistakes we wouldn’t have conceded in four or five games. Let’s be honest, apart from big mistakes, we wouldn’t have let a goal in. When I talk about demanding things, it’s about demanding the right execution.
“Ta ke s et- p l ays , n o i t’s not good enough to hit that first man. Yes, we support them, but at the same time we need to have that demand internally. We must demand things of them.”
The Black Cats’ next game sees Port Vale visit the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, in the first knockout round of the Papa John’s Trophy.