City midfielder Bradley Johnson admitted that he and his City team-mates were living the Premiership dream after Saturday’s 3-3 thriller with Blackburn Rovers kept the Canary pot bubbling nicely along.
It was the 24-year-old’s wickedly deflected shot that hauled the home side back into the contest and set Norwich en route to that grandstand finish courtesy of Grant Holt’s 94th minute penalty.
“If you don’t shoot, you don’t score,” was Johnson’s familiar mantra afterwards, defying anyone to take the goal away from him.
“It’s taken a deflection, but thankfully for us it’s gone into the back of the net – and I’m claiming that as my goal.”
Norwich needed a little break. As Canary chief Paul Lambert pointed out afterwards, they were overdue a slice of good fortune after shipping five penalties in those opening five games. In fairness to the home side, they busted a gut in those final 15 minutes or so to try and make something drop their way.
“I thought we were a bit unlucky to go 3-1 down – I didn’t think they were causing us too many problems,” said Johnson.
“And it could have been easy for us to drop our heads, but we’ve got that desire throughout the team in abundance to know that the game lasts for 90 minutes and until the 90th minute, anything can happen.”
It is a testament to the way that both Lambert and his head coach Ian Culverhouse has nurtured that kind of belief in the dressing room that from one season and one division to the next, Norwich’s ability to keep going, keep going… rides to their rescue.
That was a big point. Blackburn are no-one’s fools and – on paper – have enough quality still to dig themselves out of the bottom three.
“We are a tight bunch,” said the one-time Arsenal trainee, who like any number of his colleagues has had his years in the wilderness.
“I think everyone wants to do well for each other – and the manager as well.
“We’ve all come from the lower leagues and this is where we want to be. This is my dream to be playing in the Premiership – and that’s the same for most of the other lads.
“And we want to stay here. So every game that we go into – no matter who we are playing – we want to win.”
Come the final minute, of course, and there was the re-assuring sight of club skipper Holt placing the ball on the spot. His finish – given both the nature of the keeper in front of him and the timing of the spot-kick – was right out of the top drawer. And right into the side-netting, to boot.
“There was never any doubt in my mind [that he’d score],” said Johnson, looking one of the bargains of the summer given that he was released on a free by Leeds.
“I’ve seen him [Holt] do that every day in training when he practices his penalties. And he’s just proved today how important he is to this team.
“He hasn’t been starting most games, but last week he’s come on and got us the equalising goal and today he’s done it as well.”
The intensity of that rivalry for the No9 gig between Holt and Steve Morison will be fascinating to watch unfold over the forthcoming months; both stated their case this weekend – Morison’s finish, in fairness, was out of the same top drawer as Holt’s penalty.
“Holty could have easily dropped his head because he hasn’t been playing, but that’s the attitude of the team – we all want to do well for each other.
“And we can’t play both of them [Morison and Holt] because we’re playing one, lone striker. So it’s either Steve or Holty and they both scored today, so they’re just fighting for that shirt at the moment.
“But I think it’s down to the manager as well that when you’re not playing for this team, you still want to do well for it.”
The quality of Morison’s strike, said Johnson, took his team-mates aback slightly.
“It surprised us, because he doesn’t really do that in training,” he laughed. “But he’s a great player – and he’s proved that again today with a great goal.”