Jacko: “the turnaround is down to the players”

We were very grateful to Johnnie Jackson and Tracey Leaburn for joining us this evening to answer questions from CAST members. We are hopeful that a recording of the evening will be available soon but, in the meantime, here is a summary:

Johnnie Jackson:

"The turnaround in performance is down to the players really. I've just tried to freshen things up and improve confidence and make it more intensive but also keep it enjoyable. Obviously, there has been a slight tweak in formation which has had a positive impact. The players have bought into everything I've asked of them. Winning helps as well ! If we lose a game my job will be to snap them out of negativity ready for the next game"

"I like 3-5-2 because I prefer to have two players up front. Particularly at this level. Obviously, you have to find a way to get two up front and this system allows us to attack and defend in numbers. It is a bit lopsided with a full back on one side and a winger on the other but it works so far. There will be times when we line up differently depending on the opposition."

"We haven't had discussions yet about strengthening in January. Yes, I wouldn't mind Ivan Toney but we do have Miles Leaburn coming through"

I'm confident we can tie down our young players on to contracts so that, if they leave, we are at least compensated financially. Signing Deji was a really good step"

"You learn a little bit from every manager you work under. You see what things you'd like to do and those things you wouldn't do. You make your own blend. If I look back on the Chris Powell days I don't recall the tactics so much but I do remember how he made me feel about myself and how he motivated me"

"We are a coach down but there is no current news on increasing coaching staff."

"It was a bit weird playing for Spurs as an Arsenal fan but I was an eleven year old and I just wanted to become a professional. Spurs gave me a great football education. One of my dreams was to play in a north London derby and I did - just for the wrong team. My only Spurs goal was against Charlton"

"This might sound a bit cheesy but I always thought I would come to Charlton. I was Phil Parkinson's first signing at Colchester and I kept in touch with him. I have the greatest respect for him. It looked like it wouldn't happen when I signed for Notts County but, within six months, I was at The Valley on loan to cover for Grant Basey when he was injured. Then I got injured"

"Out of Thomas Sandgaard and me I am the better guitar player. Adam Matthews has a great voice and can belt out a tune."

"Albie Morgan has so much talent and, if we can help him, he can go on and make it. I think it is important always to have regular dialogue with any player who isn't in the team. We can look at clips and they can look at what players ahead of them are doing. Albie trains hard and wants to play and he is only an injury or suspension away from being in the team. We might have a conversation about a loan if he isn't playing come January"

"We should hear by tomorrow about Jayden Stockley's appeal"

"Steve Brown knows the game and the club but I don't know if he would be interested in doing defensive coaching with us. We haven't got the resources for position specific coaching anyway"

"I know the club are very keen on gaining Cat 1 Academy status and the markers are being put in place, but I don't know any more than that"

"Playing during the Duchatelet era was difficult. It was a challenging time. There was no plan for the future or recruitment. There were a lot of PR disasters and I was rolled out to front things up. At the time I wanted to help but, looking back, it wasn't my mess to sort out. I understood why fans were protesting and throwing pigs on the pitch. They had to get their voice heard. But, as a player, especially on match day, you just want to have tunnel vision and focus on the game"

"Some of the things I witnessed during the Southall era beggared belief but I'll leave the details until my autobiography comes out. The less breath wasted on those people the better"

"At the club we prize inclusivity and taking the knee sends a strong message. It is the players' decision and we are guided by them. We stand together as a club"

At this point a poll was conducted about which player has been most impressive during Johnnie's tenure as manager. The winner was George Dobson with 56% (followed by Ben Purrington with 21% and Jason Pearce with 12%)

"George has been brilliant, He trained hard when he wasn't in the squad and he gave me confidence that he was ready. I wouldn't have put him in otherwise. Part of my thinking was also that he would like to prove a point to Sunderland"

"It is possible that higher intensity training and playing has led to injuries but it has only been four games and thirty days so it is a small sample size"

"Thomas's impact has been great. The uncertainty has gone. Now we have stability, some future planning and a vision. He has made investments in the team, the women's team, the Academy and the training ground infrastructure."

"I won't comment on Nigel Adkins. That would be disrespectful. He is an experienced manager with a successful record but perhaps he wasn't quite the right fit for us. I don't want to dwell on that. You can see from my style that I am doing things differently"

Another poll was held to find out what fans felt was the highest priority for the January window. The new Kinsella got 8%; the new Steve Brown got 8%; but the majority (81%) wanted Johnnie to find the new Clive Mendonca.

"My favourite Charlton goal was the one against QPR. It wasn't my best technical goal. It was a four yard header although it was from a tight angle. Because of its importance the feeling in that moment was incredible. That was the best feeling I ever had after a goal."

"Charlie Barker has had stop /start progress since his debut. He wants to play men's football for three points and Willesden was a good loan for him. Unfortunately he got injured and he is back with us for rehab now. Loans are good for players who need senior football but it has to be the right club"

"Mason Burstow is a real prospect and we are excited about him. He is a bright young lad. A nice kid. He travelled with us up to Burton. He might have to play a part this season"

A poll was held about where fans think the club will finish this season. 58% thought we would make the play-offs.

"We take every game as it comes. We just try to catch the team above and see where it takes us. I believe we can win a lot of football matches but there are a lot of good teams in League One."

"It will be up to Thomas whether we go to Vegas after winning at Wembley"

"Jason, Glyn and I  have a discussion after every training session about what to work on the the next day. I do a lot of the shape stuff but generally we just collaborate. I think it is important to delegate and give coaches space. Nigel was excellent at that"

"Jason Pearce has been brilliant. I've lent on the senior players like him and Ben Watson. I have a good relationship with them and I'm keen to involve them. They help me manage the changing room"

"We are looking forward to Gateshead and we know it could be a banana skin. It is an obvious TV game. We will treat them with respect and we'll do our homework. We are ready to get into that third round. By the way, Northwich Victoria was before my time"

"We will start discussions with and about Elliot Lee soon. He is a player I really like and he loves playing here"

"The question about the permanent job is an obvious question but I can only control what I can control. I am giving it my everything. I don't want to look back with any regrets. I'm leaving no stone unturned. It isn't just me. We are all working very hard"

"I'm really really excited about Saturday. I can't wait. It will be a real test for us but I know the lads will respond to the great atmosphere"

Tracey Leaburn also answered some specific questions:

"The place is buzzing at the moment. I love all the humour and the pranks. Johnnie was one of the great pranksters" (Johnnie - "Ben Thatcher was the worst. That Crazy Gang took it to different levels")

"My job was really hard during the lockdowns. I wanted to have new players over for meals but I couldn't. I realised how lonely it can be for those living away from home - and especially the wives and families. I once borrowed a player's baby so I could meet a new wife with her baby in the park. It was really tough for them with no interaction"

"We felt we had to protect everyone during the Southall days. They were lying to our faces"

"No I won't be doing a tunnel jump after Plymouth. It wouldn't be right for me to do it but I really love seeing the lads do it. New players think we are winding them up when we ask them to do it"


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