Sunderland has appointed former Bristol City boss Lee Johnson as its new head coach on an initial 2-1/2 year deal to replace Phil Parkinson, the League One (third-tier) club said in a statement on Saturday.

Johnson, 39, was sacked by Championship side (second-tier) Bristol City in July after a run of four straight defeats. He will take charge of Sunderland for the first time later on Saturday when it hosts bottom-placed Wigan Athletic.

“I can see so much potential and I see it everywhere,” Johnson, who was the longest serving manager in the Championship when his time at Ashton Gate came to an end in July, said.

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“I see it in the league and how we can step up, I see it in the facilities, in the community and the passion the people of Sunderland have, and I also see it in the academy.

“The feeling I got from the ownership group (made this the right club for me). There was other interest, but that doesn't matter now and I want to be successful and to see a brave new Sunderland.”

Sunderland, which was relegated from the Premier League after the 2016-17 season and immediately dropped to the third tier, sacked Parkinson last month.

It is seventh in League One with 24 points from 14 games, nine points adrift of leaders Hull City.