City striker Oli Johnson is hoping that a Colney clear-the-air meeting will see the league leaders get back on track at Charlton this afternoon.
The midweek defeat at Leyton Orient was the Canaries’ worst performance for a while and with the chasing pack closing in on them, there have been a few frayed nerves in the days that followed.
But after third placed Millwall lost 1-0 at Huddersfield last night in front of the Sky cameras, Norwich can actually clinch promotion with a win at the Valley today. They will also need Walsall to pick up a point at Swindon but even if the Robins come through that particular test, three points for City in SE7 means they are virtually up, with their goal difference significantly better.
And Johnson is hoping they can forget about Tuesday’s miserable night in east London with a better performance – and result – south of the river this afternoon. It could be one hell of party in the sunshine for the 3,200-strong travelling army.
“We had a little meeting on Thursday morning before training and we all spoke out, our opinions on Tuesday’s game and the rest of the season – how we can improve mentally and on the pitch as well. I think a lot of positive things were said and we’ll be prepared and ready to go at Charlton,” he told the press yesterday.
“At certain points of the season after certain games, maybe after a bad result, we like to sit down and speak about the game – everyone gets their opinions out in the open and I think it seems to help.
“I just spoke about how the pressure’s on the other teams in the chasing pack. They’re the teams who can’t afford to drop any points whatever if they’re going to overhaul us. I don’t think the pressure’s on us, although we know we could get promotion with a couple of wins, we’re looking to win every single game for the rest of the season.”
The Yorkshire-born striker made his first start in a good while at Brisbane Road and he was pleased to get back in the first XI, even though he agreed that it was a bad day at the office for the table-toppers, with Orient’s direct and physical approach ruffling a few Canary feathers.
“I was delighted to get a start and for the manager to show that faith in me. But I feel, the way the game was, they suckered us into playing their long-ball game.
“It’s not our style and I thought they dragged us down to that style of play. I think, as a team, we know we can all perform better, individually and as a team.
“I maybe didn’t do myself justice, not through lack of effort but maybe because of the way the game went – maybe I could have got on the ball more. It was difficult but it’s something I’ll learn from, put down to experience and I’ll look to improve at Charlton if I’m given the nod.”
It’s fair to say that Norwich have always had a reputation for failing against the division’s lesser lights and while they have certainly picked up points against most teams this season, the former non-league forward believes that Charlton’s more fluent style may suit them more than the rough and tumble method of others.
“Maybe it’s ideal to be playing a team like Charlton who will want to get it down and play, just like us. Playing against a fellow promotion contender may suit us.
“No disrespect but the teams lower down the table maybe try and stop us playing whereas the ones higher up play in a more positive manner. We’ve got players who want to get it down and play.”
Whether Johnson keeps his place today is yet to be seen, with the potential return of Wes Hoolahan a key factor in that decision for boss Paul Lambert. But whatever happens between now and the end of the season, the ex-Stockport man is having a ball in Norfolk after joining the club in January.
“It’s been extremely exciting and enjoyable and I’m really pleased I’ve been given this opportunity. I’d like to think I’ve done fairly well at taking it.
“I’ve loved every minute of the last four months, working with the gaffer, the coaches and all the players. They’ve been fantastic for me and I’m hoping to kick on and carry on and forge a successful career here at Norwich.”