BY RICHARD CAWLEY
firstname.lastname@example.org Johnnie Jackson made the permanent transition from player to coach in the summer – but has been too busy to reflect on his change of status at Charlton Athletic.
The 36-year-old called time on an eight-year career in SE7 during which he captained the Addicks to League One promotion and suffered a Championship relegation.
Valley favourite Jackson had been player-coach last season before becoming number two to Lee Bowyer in a caretaker capacity for the closing months of the last campaign.
Now the pair have been handed those titles permanently.
“Most people ask if I miss playing and I suppose I do – but I haven’t really had the time to sit down and ponder what I am missing,” said Jackson. “I don’t feel like there is a big hole, because it has been filled with other stuff.
“If I’d came out of the game, left the club or not known what I wanted to do or where I was going then it might have been a bit of a struggle. I’ve gone straight into something I wanted to do. That has helped. Every day I’m enjoying going into work.”
Defending and set-plays come under Jackson’s jurisdiction to a certain extent, although he admits it is not a total demarcation.
Charlton have kept just two clean sheets in their last nine matches – conceding nine in the most recent three League One fixtures.
“This week I’ve been doing a lot of work with the defenders,” he said. “I’ve done a hell of a lot more coaching. It’s nice to get back to that because when you have a lot of games then you just put on sessions to keep the boys ticking over.
“With this little break it has given us a chance to get some quality coaching work in to them.
“It’s little lapses in concentration that have cost us – generally after periods where we have dominated and been on top. That can be a problem when you are not doing a lot of defending and perhaps just switch off.
“I don’t think it has been us being under the cosh or getting opened up all the time. It can be not tracking that runner or being in the wrong position.
“Perhaps our shape is a bit different this season and we’re more expansive going forward. It is impossible to be really, really rigid defensively and that expansive going forward – something has to give.
“Last season [after Bowyer took charge] we were more solid behind the ball, harder to break down but we weren’t quite as creative going forward and not scoring as many goals.
“In an ideal world we’d score and create loads and the other team doesn’t get a sniff. But football doesn’t really work like that. But we feel we’re really close to bringing it all together.
“There have been changes at the back and injuries but I don’t want to look for excuses because we’ve got some of the best players in their positions in this division. It’s about keeping concentration for 90 minutes.
“We win and lose together. There is no finger-pointing. We can all do better to get the results.”
Jackson echoes Bowyer’s sentiments that Charlton’s points total should be greater. Confirmation the duo had been given their current jobs minus the caretaker tag was a big hit with supporters.
Both are viewed as Charlton men – something that hasn’t been the case under owner Roland Duchatelet’s watch ever since he sacked Chris Powell.
“It’s literally just been a change of title,” said Jackson. “It hasn’t changed what we do day to day or how we deal with each other.
“It just sounds better. It gives the lads, the group and supporters some peace of mind. It gives an appearance of more stability at the club. It calmed everything down.
“Even now you are only five or six bad results away from possibly being sacked anyway – whether you are caretaker or permanent.
“Lee deserves the respect of being called manager – not caretaker – for what he has done since he took over. I feel the same applies to my role.”
Jackson believes you can now begin to gauge the contenders for promotion – with tomorrow’s opponents Barnsley one of them. So who else?
“Sunderland will definitely be right up there. Portsmouth are no frills, solid, organised and get results – you know what you are getting. I think Peterborough will be a bit more up and down – they are capable of goals but can also ship a few.
“Doncaster have been impressive. I thought Luton were a decent side, we were quite well-matched. But I’ve not seen anyone who blows me away or that I don’t think we’re capable of finishing above.
“I’ve always felt that we have been in the ascendency in the majority of our games.
That dominance isn’t reflected in all the results. But the fact it is there is still encouraging.”