I think the news that Bradley Johnson extended his contract to 2016 this week caught many of us off-guard. February is a slightly unusual time to renew a contract and a lot of clubs would want the team’s position in the league to be secured before making such a decision.
Nevertheless, Chris Hughton has clearly identified the player as an important cog in the Canary machine and wanted to get that deal sorted now. I will be honest enough to say that I thought Johnson’s opportunities this season might have been limited.
Of course, Hughton moved to sign Alex Tettey in the summer, and it looked like initially that would have limited the opportunities that Johnson had available. Many discussions were made through social media last season that we needed an upgrade in that defensive midfield position.
It’s fair to say that many of us were impressed with what we saw in Tettey when he first arrived on the scene. It was natural to think that he might form a midfield partnership with a Jonny Howson or a David Fox. However, it has turned out that the preferred partnership has been that between Tettey and Johnson this season.
Critics of this partnership would suggest that they both have rather similar qualities, and it’s fair to say that neither has the sort of passing the ability that say a Fox does. It’s also fair that they have played, perhaps, a few too many games together. And they haven’t contributed greatly on the goals front.
However, they are two players that are crucial to making to the 4-2-3-1 system work and were instrumental in the 10-match unbeaten run earlier in the season. I think that Johnson has stepped up his game to play alongside Tettey, and they now look to be a very solid partnership.
The new contract is richly deserved, and he has proved to be very good at nullifying the opposition with his midfield partner. I think it’s safe to say that he played a crucial role in securing those fine home wins against Manchester United and Arsenal this season.
It will be interesting to see where his career goes from here and if he can force his way into the England side. Norwich City are, of course, in the middle of a slightly dodgy run of form, but Johnson’s energy levels have improved in recent games. And it seems that next Premier League win is not too far away.