City’s fifth signing of the summer duly popped out of the woodwork this week in the shape of Leeds’ utility midfielder Bradley Johnson.
His name had been widely linked to the Canaries for much of the summer after the Yorkshire Evening Post all-but announced the switch last month.
Signed on a Bosman free transfer after the 24-year-old failed to agree a new deal at Elland Road, City have now formally confirmed that the midfielder has agreed a three-year deal with his new employers and, therefore, becomes signing No5 for City boss Paul Lambert following the arrival of James Vaughan, Steve Morison, Elliott Bennett and Ritchie de Laet earlier this summer.
With the players back in full-time pre-season training from Monday, it will be interesting to see how long Lambert waits to add Nos 6 and 7 into his Premiership collection.
The Canary chief has always stressed the importance he attaches to bedding new players into his existing squad as early as possible; to give them the full benefit – socially as well as physically – of a lengthy pre-season build-up ahead of the big kick-off at Wigan in little more than six weeks time.
That benefit was certainly not lost on the City new-boy as he set up camp in Norfolk this week.
“I cannot wait to join up with the squad and meet everyone, get training and get a good pre-season under my belt,” Johnson told the club’s official website.
Like fellow midfielder David Fox – released by Manchester United as a teenager – Johnson spent his early years at Arsenal only to be released at 16. Following a brief spell at Cambridge United, he joined Northampton Town.
Whilst there, he enjoyed a four-game loan spell at Stevenage Borough – in the company, briefly, of a centre-forward by the name of Morison.
With a further loan spell at Ebbsfleet also to his name, Johnson ticks all of the increasingly familiar Lambert boxes; having picked himself up from early disappointments to drive his career on and on and on into the Premiership.
Once again, the assumption is that Johnson has the hunger to succeed, the attitude to make the most of his ability and will not arrive on the ‘Costa del Colney’, looking to put his feet up.
With the likes of Andrew Crofts and Fox for company, he can ill afford to do that. Competition for those midfield places in now just as intense as those for the forward berths.
And the fact that so many of the Class of 2011-2012 have tasted life on the other side of the football fence ensures that everyone has that extra hunger to their game. They know about real life, of 4am starts collecting spread-sheets, of long, gruelling hours fitting tyres.
“I feel I’ve done a lot of hard work to get there [the Premier League] – coming up from the Ryman League now all the way to getting a chance in the Premier League,” said Johnson, a route to glory that he shares with the likes of Grant Holt (Barrow) and Russell Martin (Lewes).
“I know a few of the lads already at the club from my time in the lower leagues and I know they are as hungry as me – and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons why they got back-to-back promotions.
“They proved they were a good team by getting that,” he added. “And that was another deciding factor for me – to join a team that enjoys playing football, is hungry and has got that desire to succeed.”
Where Lambert turns his attentions next is the big question.
De Laet might offer possibilities right across the back four, but Lambert still might fancy a fourth, out-and-out centre-half to add to the competition for places in that department.
Likewise at goal-keeper; John Ruddy and the two Canary starlets may yet benefit from having an older pair of hands on board – just in case.