Date: 17th December 2020 at 8:50am
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The Sunderland Echo’s Phil Smith appeared on the latest edition of the Wise Men Say podcast and the journalist spent some time talking about new Sunderland boss Lee Johnson’s impact on the Black Cats’ squad during the show.

While discussing the early days of Johnson’s reign at The Stadium of Light, which began earlier this month, Smith explained that the new manager has already had a notable positive impact on his squad. 

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An easy one to kick off our quiz on the 2020 summer transfer window in the EFL, which player left Birmingham City to join Borussia Dortmund?

The journalist said: “I think it’s a really good point that you make about the players enjoying themselves because I think that is a big thing. 

“At the end of the day, what matters is whether the players buy into [Johnson’s ideas] or not and from what we’re seeing so far, the players look like they’re enjoying it, they look like they’re being liberated a little bit and that gives you a bit of excitement and a bit of encouragement.” 

Have you been impressed by Sunderland under Johnson so far?

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YES

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TIF Thoughts on what Smith had to say about Sunderland’s players enjoying themselves under Johnson…

Sunderland suffered a 1-0 defeat to Wigan Athletic in what was Johnson’s first game in charge of the north-east club, but given that the 39-year-old’s appointment as manager was only announced earlier on that same day, perhaps it would be unfair to place much, if any, blame on him for that loss. 

The Black Cats have gone undefeated in each of their three games to have taken place since that 1-0 loss to Wigan – winning two of those games and so, perhaps the positive turn in form the club has seen in their last three games is a result of the new manager’s positive influence rubbing off on his squad as they’ve had more time to work with him. 

If Smith is right in saying that Sunderland’s players are enjoying their football more under Johnson than they did under Phil Parkinson at the end of his reign, then perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that Sunderland’s results have improved and a link should be made between those two occurrences. So, it may be understandable why Smith thinks there are some exciting and encouraging signs for the future of the north-east club under Johnson.