Norwich City’s Bradley Johnson warns against early Premier League slip-ups
Bradley Johnson insists Norwich City will be more streetwise this time around ahead of the Premier League curtain raiser at Fulham.
The 25-year-old rejects any notion of second season struggles, but warns the Canaries cannot afford any repeat of their testing start to last season's memorable campaign.
City's early progress was hindered by an alarming penalty concession rate that Johnson attributed to a degree of naivety. The combative midfielder believes Chris Hughton's squad will be a different proposition after their top flight experiences.
'We know what it's about this time,' he said. 'Last year we didn't know what to expect in the Premier League. At the start of last season we made a lot of mistakes – we gave away five penalties in the first five games and mistakes in this league cost you. It cost us dearly last year.
'We struggled a bit in the first two games but once we got that first win under our belts we kicked on and hopefully we can cut out the mistakes this year and really kick on.
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'We've forgotten about last year – we had a great season last year but it's about staying up again. Survival is the main thing but we're not really concentrating on where we finish in this league, as long as we stay in it again. It's where every one of us wants to be – it's the best league in the world and we want to stay here.'
Johnson started both City's final two pre-season runouts against Hull and the weekend 2-0 Carrow Road defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach. His personal target is trying to keep the shirt when the real business gets underway at Craven Cottage.
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With the summer arrivals of Robert Snodgrass and Jacob Butterfield, Johnson knows competition for midfield slots will be fierce over the course of the campaign.
'I came here last year and there is a lot of competition but it keeps every player on their toes,' he said. 'You could fill the team with midfielders – I think that's how many we've got but it keeps everyone on their toes and everyone wants the shirt. I'm working my hardest in training to make sure that I get that shirt for Saturday.'
Johnson insists playing the likes of European thoroughbreds Ajax, Celtic and finally a slick Borussia outfit over the summer has been excellent preparation for league combat.
The former Leeds man feels City's relative lack of goals should be put in context after shut-outs against MK Dons, Hull and the German Champions League qualifiers.
'We are just getting minutes under our belts ready for the start of the season next week,' he said. 'Hopefully we can prove the doubters wrong again. We haven't scored a lot of goals but pre-season is just for minutes, it's not about the results. It would be nice to score a few goals but the league starts next week and hopefully they will come then. It was a good work-out for us. We knew they were going to come here and be a good team. They are a very good team, which they proved last year where they finished in their league.
'It's pre-season for us, it's not about the result at the end of the day. It's about getting 90 minutes and making sure that we're ready for that first game of the season.'
City's first Premier League opponents, Fulham, also slipped to defeat in their final friendly tune-up with a 2-1 home defeat against London rivals Charlton.
Damien Duff put Martin Jol's men ahead after just five minutes, but the Addicks eased to victory in a behind-closed-doors derby.