Sunderland boss Lee Johnson arguably took on one of the hardest and most challenging roles in the Football League back in December of last year as he took his place in the hotseat at the Stadium of Light.
The overall objective that the former Bristol City man was handed at that time was to guide an underperforming side into promotion contention, with a view to getting the Black Cats back into the Sky Bet Championship after several previous failed attempts.
At the time of writing, the North East outfit still remain in League One with Johnson at the helm, with their young and exciting squad beginning to build some real momentum after making a good start to the season up to this point.
However Johnson is sure to want more success on Wearside as he looks to end the club’s Championship exile at the second time of asking.
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Here, we take a look at the Sunderland’s manager’s best and worst moments of his tenure with the club so far.
Best Moment – Winning the Papa John’s Trophy
Easily the best highlight of his time with the club so far, Johnson tasted success under the famous arch at Wembley Stadium back in March as the Black Cats saw off Tranmere Rovers 1-0 to win the Papa John’s Trophy.
A competition that isn’t usually viewed as a priority by many clubs and managers respectively, Sunderland took the Trophy in their stride and played a strong team in each of the rounds that they found themselves in.
The EFL Trophy win arguably enhanced Johnson’s reputation amongst the Sunderland fanbase further and as a result it arguably bought him a lot more time in the hotseat as he eventually missed out on promotion via the play-offs.
Add to the fact that the victory in the capital represented the club’s first win at Wembley in almost 50 years and it is fair to say that this achievement was a lot more significant than many people care to admit.
Worst Moment – Play-off Heartbreak
Hands down the worst moment of his tenure so far, Johnson’s play-off semi final defeat to Lincoln City last season was a hammer blow to what had been a largely positive start to life in the North East for the 40-year-old.
The Black Cats suffered a disastrous first leg defeat at Sincil Bank to the Imps, with Tom Hopper and Brennan Johnson putting Michael Appleton’s side in firm control of the tie.
Moving into the second leg and it was Sunderland who fought back valiantly to hit the ascendancy in the first half as Ross Stewart and Charlie Wyke levelled the tie on aggregate after 33 minutes at the Stadium of Light.
However there was to be a sting in the tail for Johnson and his players in the second half as that man Hopper popped up with a header just short of the hour mark, thus consigning the home side to a fourth successive season in League One as they lost out 2-3 on aggregate.