Manager happy with side's early progress
Johnson on trialists signings.
The three (trialists) are going to be joining us. Rhys (Lovett) is only 19 years of age and we see him as a fantastic prospect, he’s a super goalkeeper he’s like a top gymnast that can play in goal he does a triple somersault before he catches it if he can, he’s a good lad. I didn’t really want to lose him so we brought him in. Everyone’s seen Parslow and Rowe, they were the two from early on that I wanted to get in, Rowe’s been injured for a little while, and Parslow gives us experience. Rowe’s the type of player I like, he’s comfortable on the ball and he can spot a pass, which he showed the other night. The other lads have taken to the new boys straight away, which is important at this stage.
Johnson on the board and the futures of under-contract players
They have been great, you have to make sure (with players) there’s no room for negotiation. I’ve pushed and pushed, I’m still pushing now and I think I’ve got my squad, we just need one more now, it’s no secret, the loan centre back who will sign when he’s ready. And then I feel we’ve done our job and we can get on with it. The important thing now is some have to move out, the board have allowed me to go over budget, so we need to move players out before we set out, it’s important now they go and get games elsewhere otherwise they’ll be wasting their time here. Unfortunately we’ve still got injuries, Asa is still a long way away, Wynter too… Well winter usually comes around December or January. That was terrible wasn’t it? Vaughan’s still out for a couple of weeks. We have Eliot Richards too, god bless him, hopefully he’s seen the worst of it now, hopefully he can start rehabilitating, there’s four players who aren’t ready to play as of yet, but we have to be careful we aren’t shipping out players that we need. Jack Deaman is going to play for a couple of clubs, they’re having a look at him and vice versa. There’s a couple of other lads we need to loan out as well. The first team squad, the lads we’ve brought in, is well within budget that was given, of course, when you inherit lads that were in the league they’ll be on decent money, and it’s annoying when they’re not available through injury. What we have to do is get the lads who aren’t fully fit, fit, and then assess whether they’ll be part of the first team squad.
Johnson on Eliot Richards
The most important thing with Eliot is that he got healthy and we’ve seen him on occasion over the last few weeks. We’re looking forward to him getting fit and healthy enough to train, at least he’s got his football then to take his mind off what must have been a horrendous period for him.
Johnson on his thoughts of how pre-season has gone
The proof’s in the pudding as to how successful we’ve been so far, pre-season has seemed to show us that the lads are gelling both on and off the field, as the games have shown us. We’re only 28 days into preseason and yet we’re quite a long way down the road, I’ve kept a certain group together for a while which has allowed us to progress to one philosophy and mentality and I’ve been bombarding them with my philosophy, and they seemed to come out from that well.
We have to make sure the players I’m giving my philosophy to can actually perform well, and all the players look like they can pass and receive the ball, and the big thing for me is the work rate as a group, the team energy is there and that is a great start to work with.
Johnson on the friendlies with Cardiff and AFC Wimbledon
Cardiff will be a good test, the Championship lads are quality and can really play football, they’re going to be a real test. The Wimbledon game will be like the Bristol Rovers game, I need them to give a good competitive performance to show we can do well in this league.
Whatever the result (v AFCW) I’ll be looking for a good competitive performance and a win would be great.
Johnson on wholesale changes in the squad
I wasn’t sure about a total squad overhaul, but we’ve been working with a competitive budget, there are clubs with a bigger budget than us, you’re never quite sure which players are going to agree dropping down to our level. I’m really pleased with the group that we’ve brought in, and the ones we’ve chased, we ended up getting, which is a credit to the football club and everyone really, reputation is important too, once I got the first three or four in, people thought ‘Cheltenham want to go somewhere', and that’s how it all came together. I get the hump when we miss out on a player, but to be honest I’ve been quite happy with how our close season has panned out.
Johnson on how important a player’s character is
Character is important, but the player has to be good enough for us, it’s massive for me, I want to come in every day and enjoy working with them and I’ve got to see them being motivated. If I’m at the top of my game, hopefully I can get them to the top of theirs. If they want to win at tiddlywinks, I’ll make sure they’re competitive. They’re good people and the supporters have seen that, no one’s moaning or complaining about how long interviews take.
Johnson rating pre-season so far /10.
Our pre-season has been an 8/10, the two home friendlies have shown the work rate of the players, there’s been no points at stake but the boys have run their hearts out. We beat the side that went up last season, which is what we have to do. It was important for our confidence, we’ve created an affinity with the supporters already, and it’s genuine. If you’ve got the fans behind you, they are so important to give that positive support, they can play a massive part this season.