Sunderland close to appointing Lee Johnson as head coach

Sunderland close to appointing Lee Johnson as head coach

Sunderland are close to appointing Lee Johnson as their head coach. The 39-year-old former Bristol City manager is expected to fill the gap left by Phil Parkinson’s sacking and become part of a revamped hierarchy also featuring the newly installed sporting director Kristjaan Speakman.

Whereas Speakman on Friday exchanged his role as Birmingham City’s academy head for one at the Stadium of Light, Johnson has been out of work since being sacked by Championship Bristol City in July after four years. He has League One experience from roles in charge of Oldham and Barnsley and will be charged with the task of leading Sunderland out of the third tier this season.

The former Sunderland manager Gus Poyet was also spoken to as the board interviewed assorted candidates on a shortlist also including Sol Campbell, Danny Crowley and Paul Cook but Johnson looks set to join Speakman, possibly within the next 24 hours.

Speakman, 41, said he was “excited” about the prospect of helping “restore Sunderland to their rightful place in the Premier League”. He joins with the team seventh in League One, five points off an automatic promotion place and with the club inching closer to being taken over by Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Juan Sartori.