Resurgent Charlton dreaming big thanks to Johnnie Jackson’s unshakeable belief as he stakes claim for job

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Johnnie Jackson is hugely impressing in his bid to become the full-time Charlton manager  (Getty Images)
Johnnie Jackson is hugely impressing in his bid to become the full-time Charlton manager (Getty Images)

Footage of Johnnie Jackson’s stirring team talk after Saturday’s 2-0 win over top-of-the-table Plymouth was posted by Charlton on social media this week, capturing the soaring sense of belief under the interim manager.

“We’ll keep winning,” Jackson told the dressing room. “We’ll go to Morecambe and win, we’ll go to Shrewsbury and win. And we do not stop. I keep saying it: we do not stop. Because no one can live with you.”

Since replacing Nigel Adkins on October 21, Jackson has led Charlton to four wins and a draw in five league games, including clashes with promotion favourites Plymouth, Rotherham and Sunderland.

Ahead of Tuesday night’s visit to Morecambe, there is a growing sense that Jackson’s Charlton are themselves among the teams to beat in League One, despite winning just two of their first 13 matches.

“I know we can compete with anyone in the league,” Jackson told Standard Sport. “You saw it. Plymouth are top, haven’t lost since the opening day and are a very good team. And we matched them. I’m just trying to get the lads to believe it, because I believe it.

“It’s easier to deliver a team talk when you’ve just had a great result,” he added of his post-match rallying cry. “It was nice to give supporters an insight, it builds up a connection which maybe wasn’t there between players and supporters.

“We’re really starting to build some harmony now. Although I think it would be too much to have my team talk filmed every week!”

Fostering unity from the boardroom to the terraces is important for Jackson, who has witnessed first hand Charlton’s turbulent years as both a player and coach.

Saturday’s win came in front of The Valley’s first sell-out crowd since the play-off semi-final against Doncaster in 2019, with 26,090 fans in attendance following a social media campaign by the club.

“We all want to get back to the Premier League,” said Jackson, who spent nine seasons as an Addicks player. “We realised what a huge club this is, especially at this level. Saturday was a small reminder and taste of what it can become. It reminded me of some of the great days I’ve had there. It was right up there with anything I’ve experienced.

“I’ve told the lads what it’s like when it’s full and rocking and they get behind you. But maybe they needed to see it with their own eyes. Hopefully we can make that more like the norm.”

Jackson has made adjustments to training, increasing the intensity of sessions and demanding his players cover more ground during matches, but his biggest change has been a switch to a 3-5-2 system, while his creative use of the squad has caught the eye.

Left-back Ben Purrington has been transformed as a wing-back, scoring three times in five matches, while midfielder Sean Clare looks a natural on the right of the back three.

“I wouldn’t say it’s always been my ambition to play 3-5-2” Jackson said. “You look at the opposition, you look at the personnel available and you come up with something that you think is going to suit.

“One thing I am keen on is two strikers. I’m not sure it works at a higher level all the time but it’s something we had a lot of success with Lee Bowyer as manager, and we got promotion [to the Championship in 2018-19] on the back of it. It’s something I wanted to take forward into my philosophy.

The Addicks have been transformed since Nigel Adkins’ sacking, seeing off promotion favourites (Getty Images)
The Addicks have been transformed since Nigel Adkins’ sacking, seeing off promotion favourites (Getty Images)

“I [also] look back to the Chris Powell days and how he man-managed, how he made me feel as a player and got the best out of me,” Jackson added. “You’re constantly taking little nuggets away from the managers you’ve worked with.”

Addicks owner Thomas Sandgaard will be at Morecambe on Tuesday night and Shrewsbury on Saturday, and has already confirmed that Jackson is being considered for the job permanently.

As it stands, the 39-year-old could hardly have done more to convince Sandgaard he deserves the opportunity.

“I’ve made it quite clear I want to manage, I feel like I’m ready to manage,” Jackson said. “I love coaching, I loved being an assistant [to Bowyer and Adkins] but the next logical step for me is to become a manager and I’d love that opportunity to be at Charlton. I’ve got a real affinity with the football club but I’ve got confidence in myself that I could be a success wherever I go.

“I know [the owner] is pleased with how it’s going. I’m sure we’ll have time to have our chats but my main focus is preparing the team for the games.”

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