BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Johnnie Jackson is adamant he was ready for an instant return to management after being named AFC Wimbledon’s new boss on Monday.
The 39-year-old had been left reeling after Charlton Athletic owner Thomas Sandgaard informed him on May 3 that he was terminating his contract.
But the former Addicks captain was quickly back in work after signing a two-year contract with the Dons, who were relegated from League One at the end of April.
Jackson, who has brought in Terry Skiverton as his assistant, is grateful for the opportunity and insisted he did not need a break after his Valley exit.
“I felt ready, because I didn’t feel ready to be out of work,” Jackson told the South London Press. “I expected to be carrying on. I was looking forward to a little break, getting my team into pre-season and cracking on with it.
“All of a sudden that was gone.
“All that energy, ideas and enthusiasm that I knew I had, I was keen to put it to use somewhere else.
“This opportunity came up and I really thought it was a good one. They were enthused by my ideas and how I sold myself – they could see the energy I’ve got for it.”
Jackson had 12 years at Charlton as a player, coach and finally as manager. His wife Lucy was a huge help when it came to processing his Valley departure.
“My family and my friends were the people I lent on,” said Jackson. “My wife sort of took it just as badly as I did, because she was massively part of it.
“She is a huge support in everything I’ve done and she was ingrained in that world. So were my kids. My mum and dad, my sisters, they would all come and watch. They were all emotionally invested. It was difficult for us all. Obviously I was hurting more than anyone because it was happening to me, but when you have got people that love and support you they want to be there for you as well.
“I’m very lucky I’ve got a great network around me that I needed in those moments.”
Sandgaard had previously been quoted stating that Jackson would be staying on as Charlton boss.
Instead the US-based Dane is now interviewing candidates, with Aston Villa assistant head coach Michael Beale believed to be his top choice.
Sandgaard is ready to pay the compensation to release Beale, who is also thought to be in the mix for the vacancies at Blackburn and QPR.
Jackson does not want to talk about the manner of his departure.
He added: “It wouldn’t be right and fair on AFC Wimbledon. I’m the AFC Wimbledon manager and my focus is fully on that.
“I’m fully committed to the job and excited by it. I don’t want anything to take away from that.
“The goodwill I’ve had from everyone, including the supporters, means a lot to me. I wouldn’t disrespect them by talking as if my focus lies elsewhere – because it doesn’t. It’s firmly on the job in hand.”
PICTURE: IAN STEPHEN