Johnnie Jackson takes charge of his first game in his second spell as Charlton Athletic’s caretaker manager this afternoon, as he takes his side to automatic promotion hopefuls Sunderland this afternoon.
Winning his only game in charge of the Addicks, coming from two goals down against Bristol Rovers to win 3-2 back in March, he will be hoping for another three points today.
But this will be a huge task considering their vastly contrasting form to Lee Johnson’s men.
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Previously expected to be in and around the promotion mix right from the very start of the 2021/22 campaign, they are currently in the relegation zone and will be underdogs going into this afternoon’s tie at the Stadium of Light.
Today’s hosts have won all six of their home games in the third tier so far this season and have a great opportunity to make it seven against a vulnerable team.
With this, there are plenty of dilemmas for caretaker man Jackson to solve in the place of former manager Nigel Adkins – and will need to make an instant impact if he wants to fulfil his wish of taking the job permanently.
We have selected just two of these dilemmas he needs to weigh up ahead of this tie on Wearside.
Can he rely on an experienced duo?
Two men that have come in for a lot of criticism lately are Ben Watson and Chris Gunter – both of whom have a wealth of experience in the top two tiers of English football.
On paper, you would rely on the duo to do a good job in the third tier considering their experience playing elsewhere, but they haven’t performed to their potential recently and in his first game back in charge of the Addicks, Jackson will have to weigh up whether he wants to start them against a tough opposition.
They are unlikely to face a tougher trip this season with the atmosphere at the Stadium of Light and the Black Cats’ formidable home form, so having two players who have performed on the biggest stages could be valuable.
Gunter played a big part in Wales’ European Championships campaign in 2016, whilst Watson scored Wigan’s winner in the 2013 FA Cup final. Could this be vital in winning a point or three today?
Maybe their performance levels are more important than leadership against an in-form side.
Could a back five work?
Sunderland’s home record is there for all to see – this will be an extremely difficult task for Charlton this afternoon and even getting a point from today’s game would be a massive achievement.
Currently, the Addicks are conceding at a rate of just under two goals per game this season, something that won’t win them a lot of points if this continues and because of this, is it time to go with five at the back in an attempt to tighten things up?
A strong defence is key to any successful team, but their backline will be particularly crucial today in keeping out the likes of Ross Stewart and Aiden McGeady.
Jason Pearce could come back in, setting the likes of Pape Souare and Gunter free at wing-backs and ready to hit the Wearside club on the break.
Nothing would be more satisfying for the London-based club than a scrappy 1-0 win at the Stadium of Light – and playing three centre-backs to nullify Sunderland’s threat could make this happen.