Bradley Johnson tells critics: Keep writing us off
Bradley Johnson has built a career on abrasive defiance. The combative Norwich City midfielder has a message for the doubters who might be tempted to forecast the bursting of a bubble after the Canaries' Capital One Cup exit to Aston Villa.
'I'd say keep writing us off. We play better when we are underdogs. Everyone has written Norwich off and we've always proved them wrong,' he said. 'We've gone on an unbeaten run of 10 games and no one had really heard about it. If any other team in the Premier League did that, I'm sure you'd hear a lot of it – but long may it continue. We don't mind being underdogs as long as we prove everyone wrong on the pitch and that's what we're doing.
'We've conceded a few goals in the past couple of games but the last time we did that we went on that 10-game unbeaten run, so I hope we can do the same again.
'Honestly, it's not nice to ship goals in but at Swansea we scored more than them and got the win, so if we keep on scoring more than the opposition and keep on getting three points, that's all that matters. It's not good conceding so many goals, but I hope against Wigan we can keep a clean sheet and get two or three.'
Johnson accepts the crushing manner of City's midweek cup exit to Villa was bound to trigger a spell of introspection within Chris Hughton's squad. But the reality tells you Norwich welcome Wigan to Carrow Road as one of the Premier League form horses – after some astute summer additions from Hughton.
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'Although it wasn't a Premier League game, Aston Villa is a Premier League team and if you take your foot off the gas, they are going to punish you,' said Johnson.
'We know we weren't at our best on Tuesday night and there is no better time to bounce back than Saturday. We're still unbeaten in the league so I hope we can stay unbeaten in the league on Saturday. But it's always disappointing to get a defeat. We've got to bounce back.
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'We're more disciplined now in the way we play, we're a bit more closed –not open as much as last season when we were going gung-ho, going for goals, more of a 'We score, you score'. This season we've tightened things up at the back, we're more of a unit and we've conceded fewer goals, which is always a good thing. The gaffer's brought in good signings at the back – (Sebastien) Bassong, (Javier) Garrido, (Michael) Turner. They're all experienced players who have played in the Premier League before and it's working well for us.'
City have swept aside the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United at Carrow Road. Wigan may head to Norfolk in familiar territory towards the lower reaches, but Johnson warns the mindset must be the same.
'I don't think we ever get complacent. Everyone has worked hard in this team to get here and we want to stay here as long as possible,' he said. 'Every game we go into, we want to win, no matter who the opposition is and it will be the same on Saturday.
'This is the hardest league. To be in the Premier League is the hardest thing – staying in this league. Anyone on any day can beat anyone – which we've proved. When Manchester United came here we were underdogs and everyone thought we were going to lose, the same as Arsenal, but we've proved we can beat anyone on our day and I hope we can do that again on Saturday.'
Johnson believes Wigan's cultured philosophy under Roberto Martinez presents a unique challenge to try and counter-act.
'They're a good team, a passing team. Martinez is a great manager and he's bedded that into the team,' he said. 'He did it at Swansea and he's brought it to Wigan as well. They like to get the ball down and pass and they've got good players – (Jordi) Gomez and the lads up front, they're big strong boys – and I hope we can keep them quiet.
'They're an established Premier League club. We gave them two good games last season and it will be the same again this week. They're, like ourselves, a team young and hungry and they want to stay in this league.'
Johnson's midfield ally, Robert Snodgrass, became the latest addition to an ever-expanding former Leeds enclave at Carrow Road at the start of this season.
The Scot's consistent displays have come as little surprise to the man who lead the Elland Road exodus –following on from Jonny Howson's seamless transition from the Championship.
'He's a great player. He's come in, settled in well and proving to everyone what he can do and long may it continue,' he said. 'Jonny got his chance at Swansea and I thought he did brilliantly, and on Tuesday night, he did brilliantly as well. We have players who are unlucky, who could walk into another team, but here they have had to bide their time.'