Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has said that Chris Maguire’s celebration at the Stadium of Light this weekend does not reflect well on Lincoln City’s brand.
Maguire bagged the first of his three goals from a tight angle on Tuesday evening, and after seemingly refusing to celebrate, he ran half the length of the pitch to say something to Johnson. It was in response to the final six months of his time on Wearside, where he was marginalised by the new manager. Maguire, who was lucky to be on the pitch after an ugly challenge on Carl Winchester, added two more to complete our 3-1 victory.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Johnson had a very passive-aggressive response for the Scot, suggesting he’d done nothing with his talent in the last year (six months of which were under Johnson), and that the celebration reflects poorly on our club, as well as the player himself. “It’s not a nice scenario in one sense, I haven’t looked back at the clips but obviously I was there live so didn’t need to. I think sometimes players can confuse team selection with the human element. With all my players I want them to do well. Whether they have been with me five minutes or 10, 15 years, I will always be there for them so it’s disappointing when you see a reaction like that.”
Johnson, who took over at the Stadium of Light in December 2020, then commented on Maguire’s progress over the last year, which is interesting. Maguire started 11 League One matches at the beginning of last season, scoring three times, but missed out as they beat us 4-0 at Sincil Bank, and was only used as a sub in the league after Phil Parkinson left the club.
“It’s an interesting case study in terms of the psychology because Chris Maguire is a player who hasn’t done an awful lot, if I’m honest, in the last year but clearly has a lot of talent,” added Johnson, who clearly expects players who spend six months in the stiff, then only get match fit with a month or two of the year left to be better. “The motivation that return to Sunderland has provided him has enabled him to score a hat-trick on the day and fair play to him.”
He then went on to comment on the effect it could have on the player’s brand and Lincoln City’s. “Do I think it’s particularly good for the player’s brand or club’s brand? No. At the same time football is very emotional and I won’t hold a grudge that’s for sure. In fact, I look forward to seeing Chris do well for the rest of his career and throughout his life and family life.”
In actual fact, it seems to have given the Imps a bit of a brand boost; Maguire’s celebration went viral, and for a while, he was trending on Twitter. That’s maybe a good thing for Johnson, because I’m not sure how Sunderland’s brand would have been affected by their manager grabbing an opposition player in a melee as his team are going down 3-1 at home after being tactically outclassed. Perhaps Chris Maguire has pulled Lee out of a hole there, taking the focus away from his red card, six months after he dropped the Scot down a hole into the Under 23s as Sunderland boss.