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Happy to be the underdog

31 July 2013

Manager looks ahead with confidence


Lee Johnson is confident Latics, already written off in the eyes of the bookmakers and pundits, can slip under the radar and be a surprise package in Sky Bet League 1.

Latics’ manager is delighted with the preparations of his side, which is being tipped to struggle, as he embarks on his first full campaign which kicks off on Saturday at Stevenage.

Johnson, whose team was unbeaten in five pre-season matches, said: "I have found it enjoyable, the team building as well as the planning.

"We have had some good games, which were competitive and contained some tasty tackles, and the bonus was that we didn’t pick up any serious injuries.

"I am pleased with the recruitment I have made over the summer and we go into the season reasonably strong. I am excited about our prospects, but also realistic.


I believe that if you can get a team going with the right spirit and organisation, we have a really good chance to do well.

"Obviously we will also need luck in terms of not losing key players through injury."

After making eight summer signings – it will be nine if Adam Rooney joins – Johnson added that he has been able to mould his own team.

And despite the financial restrictions due to Financial Fair Play, Johnson believes he has juggled his resources well.

"We have brought in players, many of whom were offered more money elsewhere so it shows we are doing something right," he explained.

Johnson added he brought in his players early so they could settle and become established before the season kicks off.

"I went down the route of trying to get in players early and it remains to be seen whether that was a good or bad idea," he continued.

Johnson believes the squad is stronger than last season and his objective is to have two genuine candidates for each position.

He said: "We probably have that for 75-per-cent of the team and there is really strong competition in most areas.

"We could do with adding one, may be two, more players and that would be in an ideal world which we don’t live in."

Johnson believes the arrivals of Charlie MacDonald, Jonson Clarke-Harris and hopefully also Adam Rooney will help solve the shortage of goals in 2012/13.

"We certainly have dangerous players up front and I do believe we will score goals because we have pace going forward," he said.


Johnson believes League One is its strongest for maybe five or six years with Wolves, Bristol City and Peterborough related and Gillingham, Port Vale, Rotherham and Bradford City promoted.

He said: "There are a lot of big grounds to go to and dragons to slay.

"I think the likes of Sheffield United, Wolves, Bristol City and MK Dons will be up there.

"Usually you are guaranteed two or three other clubs will come out of the pack. I don’t think it is as clear cut as many think when you look at the odds for promotion and relegation, and I disagree with them."

Johnson is happy for his side to be tipped to be battling relegation rather than for promotion.

He explained: "I hope we are under-estimated because that can only be beneficial to us.

"You can use things like that to your advantage. And anything you can use, either mentally or tactically, I will take with both hands."


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