Lee Johnson opens up on Sunderland sacking and hopes for former club in the League One play-off final against Wycombe

Former Sunderland boss Lee Johnson says he has few regrets about his time on Wearside and that he’ll be rooting for the Black Cats in the League One play-off final.

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 2:13 pm

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Johnson was sacked by Sunderland at the end of January following a 6-0 defeat at Bolton, with the club sat third in the League One table.

Alex Neil was appointed as Johnson’s successor 12 days after the latter's departure, and has led the Black Cats to a Wembley play-off final against Wycombe Wanderers, which will take place later this month on Saturday, May 21.

When reflecting on his time at the Stadium of Light, which lasted just over a year, Johnson told Sky Sports: “I loved it.

Former Sunderland boss Lee Johnson.

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“I feel very privileged to have had the honour of coaching what I see as an iconic club in the country, an absolutely fantastic football club with great people, a fan base which is phenomenal. They are churning out 34,000 in League One on a regular basis.

“I think in general terms we did an excellent job, there were a lot of successes in that period and I wish them all the best and am rooting for them to get promotion this year.”

When asked about his emotions following the Sunderland sacking, Johnson added: “I think they’re all in there, you know you’re human.

“You have to heal because effectively you have given everything if you like in that period of time. A football club and a manager’s relationship is almost like a marriage and sometimes it breaks up.

“On this occasion genuinely I can look at myself in the mirror and say I have very few regrets in terms of where the club was and where the club is now. I think it’s in a really good space, a really good place and I think primed for success.”

Johnson has been out of work since leaving Sunderland, giving him time to reflect on his experience at the Stadium of Light.

The 40-year-old was recently linked with vacant manager’s job at Hibernian, with reports in Scotland claiming Johnson has been interviewed for the role.

“I think the first thing is investing a little bit of emotional capital back into the family,” said Johnson when discussing his time out of the game.

“It’s so all consuming the manager’s job, I’ve got a daughter who is approaching 14 years old and I’ve been away for effectively 15 months, 7 o’clock until 11 o’clock at night pushing it hard.

“The first thing is getting that balance to make sure that the family have adequate time with you, but also when it’s in you, you can’t stop that thirst for knowledge.

“There will be areas of your performances that you want to maybe reflect on, review and focus in on.”

He added: “I think you are always learning.

“Literally when you think you have seen it all in football, something changes.

“It’s so diverse, it’s a brilliant game but obviously the industry is tricky to manage and tricky to negotiate.”