Johnnie Jackson had “clear the air” discussions with his Charlton Athletic players at the start of this week – and felt they then backed that up as they ended their League One losing streak.
The Addicks were on a run of five straight defeats before today’s 0-0 draw against Sunderland at The Valley.
Jackson said: “We spoke all week as a group about what we needed to do – that we had to be more resolute and that we needed to base things off a clean sheet.
“I’ve had a response from the players from the questions I asked of them and the discussions we had this week, that were open, honest and important. They should be pleased with themselves – to a man they put in a shift in.
“I said on Monday morning that there are two months of the season, 12 games to play for, let’s not waste a minute in any of those. It’s a good start to that period. Now there are 11 games left and seven weeks – what are you going to do as individuals? What are you going to bring to the party? We don’t want the season to fizzle out, we want to finish strong.
“It can’t be a one-off and I’m sure it won’t be. There were a lot of questions asked of them by me, my staff and by them of us – a real sort of good, open conversation. We know we all need to do more.
We’ve all done that today. They gave me everything out there and they got a clean sheet and a good point.
“Monday morning we had a long meeting – different to what we’d normally have after a game. Clear the air, let everyone have their say. I don’t want finger-pointing and excuses – we can all do more, we can all do better. None of us are pleased with the run we’ve been on. We should all dislike losing. I hate losing and I’m sure the boys do as well.
“It was a good meeting and a really good week off the back of it. They backed it up on the pitch.”
Charlton did not manage to get a shot on target and were indebted to keeper Craig MacGillivray for repelling Alex Neil’s promotion-chasing Black Cats.
Sunderland had eight efforts on target and 17 goal attempts in total.
“We need to be better going forward and in possession but, as far as hard work and spirit – they showed that in abundance,” said Jackson.
“A tough, battling performance. They are a very good team, score a lot of goals and cause you a lot of problems. We knew, going into it, that it was going to be tough. So to come out of it with a clean sheet, off the back of shipping too many goals, I’m really pleased with that.
“We defended excellently as a team, threw our bodies on the line and showed a real spirit. It wasn’t vintage us, but that will come with getting some guys back and getting that confidence from stopping a losing run was a really important step for us.
“It’s been a tough run of fixtures, coinciding with being probably ar our most depeleted at any stage of the season – a double whammy. But we’re getting guys back now, so there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s definitely something for us to build on. It would’ve been nice to nick it but probably a bit harsh on Sunderland. It was great to see Jayden [Stockley] still out on the pitch in the 95th minute because he has been out a long time and only had 45 minutes of football. He showed how important he is to our team.
“Scottie [Fraser] came off after 65, good for him to get those minutes. I think he was just starting to tire, which is understandable because Covid hit him pretty hard. He’ll be much, much improved for the 65 minutes.
“Jayden will be a bit knackered for a few days but he’s got a week to recover before the next game. We didn’t get enough crosses in the box today or work their keeper enough. Mason had a chance and he hasn’t managed to find the goals recently. It’s an obvious area of the pitch we need to improve and guys are coming back, there will be more competitions for places coming up in the last stretch of the season.”
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD