New boy in the thick of derby action
Jonatan Johansson endured the ever-changing fortunes of football in the space of just five Sunday lunchtime minutes yesterday. It was Swede with a hint of Moroccan for starters as the Canaries new boy opened his account - with a little help from Youssef Safri's delightful through ball - with just 33 minutes on the clock.
By CHRIS LAKEY
Jonatan Johansson endured the ever-changing fortunes of football in the space of just five Sunday lunchtime minutes yesterday.
It was Swede with a hint of Moroccan for starters as the Canaries new boy opened his account - with a little help from Youssef Safri's delightful through ball - with just 33 minutes on the clock.
But it soon went sour as a dash of French flavouring, going by the unlikely name of Jimmy Juan, saw his free kick take a wicked deflection off Johansson's head and past a stranded Robert Green.
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To rub salt in his wounds, Johansson saw a second-half shot come back off a post - and then could only watch from afar as Danny Haynes snatched victory for Ipswich in the dying minutes.
It was a debut which went from one to remember to one to forget - beginning at the Colney training centre today.
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“I have mixed feelings - after scoring and hitting the post and the deflected free-kick it could have been so much better,” he said.
“We are all bitterly disappointed in the dressing room to lose the game and everybody's head is down, but tomorrow we must train and start again.
“I think you should win your home games and we didn't. We let in a real late goal and the first goal they scored was a bit lucky so we're disappointed.”
Johansson's opener owed much to Safri's perfect pass from the halfway line, which left the Swede needing just one touch to lob it over keeper Lewis Price. It was the sort of pass that has been missing from City's midfield for the last five games, coincidentally the games that Safri missed while on African Cup of Nations duty.
“It was a great ball - they were playing a very high line, especially in the first half and we had a few offside decisions go against us,” said Johansson. “It was a great ball from Saff and a great start but a shame we couldn't hold on to it.”
As for Ipswich's equaliser - well, there isn't much a defender in the wall - or the keeper behind him - can do once he has committed himself and then gets out of shape.
“It is one of those things,” said the Swede. “It came too quickly to react. It hit my head, I tried to head it away but headed it back.”
While many fans made their frustrations quite clear come the final whistle - and beyond - Johansson believes there are still some crumbs of comfort, although his belief was that Ipswich may just have done enough to deserve all three points.
“I think they (Ipswich) played well, they passed the ball about but sometimes in these derby games little things make a difference, like my deflection and hitting hit the post,” he said. “Sometimes there is a very small difference between winning and losing. I don't think I played my best game but we shouldn't let goals in like that. A point would have been maybe not great but it would have been alright and we didn't get it.
“You can make excuses, but we still have to go out and win and I think we could have done that today.”
What Norwich need is for Johansson, Robert Earnshaw and Zesh Rehman to gel as quickly as possible into the team - if not the play-offs aspirations at Carrow Road will go from being optimistic at best to downright outrageous.
Johansson was, understandably, talking up the positives.
“Of course, you have to believe that we can still make it,” he said. “There are 14 games left and we are capable of winning against anyone in this league and that is the mentality we have to take out on the pitch - take one game at a time and try to win every one and the end of season see where we are.
“We have a great team, that's why I came here and that's why it's so disappointing we didn't win today because I feel we have a team strong enough to have won. We just have to work hard now and be strong and work together.”
In the meantime, it's back to the training pitch to put in some hours on the Johansson-Earnshaw strike partnership - a combination the Swede believes can prove fruitful.
“It always takes time and in football you don't always have time,” he said. “It is a matter on the training pitch of getting together as a team and working hard with each other. Results bring confidence and if we can get a result next game who knows, we can go on from there.
“I think Earnie's record speaks for itself. He is a great player who will be a great signing for Norwich and I think we will have a good time together if it's us two playing up front.”