Lee Johnson reveals his key message to the Sunderland squad ahead of the promotion run-in

An hour-long meeting prior to the trip to Accrington Stanley saw Lee Johnson hammer home a key message to his Sunderland side – don’t worry about the things you can’t control.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 6:00 am

The Black Cats claimed a vital three points in the North West on Wednesday evening as second half goals from Ross Stewart and Charlie Wyke sealed a 2-0 win.

And prior to the clash at The Wham Stadium, Johnson had urged his players to block out any exterior noise ahead of the final few weeks of the campaign – and instead keep the focus on internal matters.

"We spent a good hour talking about controlling the controllables,” said the head coach.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Lee Johnson reveals his key message to the Sunderland squad ahead of the promotion run-in
Lee Johnson reveals his key message to the Sunderland squad ahead of the promotion run-in

“I think sometimes that tension can set in, in moments like this – and I think it did a bit on Sunday, to be honest with you. I didn’t think we were as fluid as we could be.

"I know it sounds a bit sports psychy, but I guess it is.

“For the first time in a long time, these players are actually getting adulation and people are seeing what they do as positive – and we all are.

“And actually this is time to ignore it, as strange as it sounds, and focus on the things we can control.

“We couldn’t control the pitch today, we couldn’t control the opposition’s good play, but what we did do was control our attitude, our tempo and our battling qualities to go and get a very good win.”

The win at Accrington saw Sunderland extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to ten games.

And while pleased with the results, Johnson was quick to point out that we standards have remained high throughout the run too.

"It’s performance momentum, isn’t it?,” he added.

"They did have a couple of chances, make no mistake. They’re a big side and from set-plays they looked dangerous.

"But I think in general play we were pretty solid and pretty composed in the way we played.

"I’m happy that we could use the squad as well. There’s boys chomping at the bit and we’ve got really good players to come back in from injury.

"It’s nice to have the options going into the last eight weeks.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor:

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Sunderland AFC coverage 365 days a year.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor