Chris Johns programme article v Larne

Posted : 1st March 2021

Linfield’s number one, Chris Johns says the pressure and demands for good performances and success were very appealing when he decided to join the club last summer after a successful four-year spell at Coleraine where he won an Irish Cup and League Cup.

“I came here because I really wanted to feel that pressure. There are not too many chances in your career that you get the opportunity to sign for such a big institution like Linfield with those hardcore fans who expect trophies year in, year out. I was relishing it when I came in and have really enjoyed it all so far. The pressure gives you something extra in your game. There is that extra edge to the feel of the place where the expectation permeates the entire team which is good.”

“I am loving it here. The training is really intense and of high quality. I have been happy with some performances and not happy with some performances. For example, we played Carrick at home on the opening day of the season and I gave away a silly penalty which is not the sort of thing I expect myself to do. There are other instances here and there where I haven’t played as well as I’d have liked. I am starting to feel a lot more comfortable within the team now because it does take time for a back five to get to know each-other, particularly with things like positioning, and I feel like we have developed a good understanding now.”

“I wouldn’t be on social media too much, as I decided in the last couple of months to take a step back from it but I do get messages from our supporters. When I first signed here I got a lot of messages of support and that was a nice feeling to receive them and felt very welcoming.”

However, the former Southampton U21 goalkeeper concedes that he won’t have sampled the full ‘Linfield experience’ until supporters are able to return in their droves and having played against Linfield for Coleraine, he says he is well aware of the atmosphere to expect in future.

“I probably haven’t been able to fully appreciate just how big this Club is just yet due to no crowds and limited capacities. When we had a limited capacity in for the Glentoran game before Christmas at Windsor, that felt like my first taste of the Linfield support despite them being scattered around the stands. That was quite an atmosphere, so I’m really looking forward to being in front of a packed Linfield crowd at some point.

“When we played Coleraine away there were a few home supporters scattered in the end where I would be used to having Linfield fans in – the Railway end at the Showgrounds – from my Coleraine days. It’s funny because with fewer people you hear individual insults! But yes, there wasn’t the usual atmosphere that the fixture would normally generate and the likes of Coleraine away, and Larne at home today of course, are prime examples of games you want crowds in for. Hopefully, that’s not far off now.”

On the pitch, Johns – who made an excellent crucial late save against Coleraine at Windsor last weekend - admits that performances maybe haven’t been at full potential given the quality of the squad, and although The Blues sit at the top of the table he is frustrated that the team haven’t been able to hit top form, particularly when title rivals aren’t in their best form.

“It seems like bits of magic are often winning us games this season. We are solid enough, but some of the quality we have in our squad is frightening and if we could unlock that quality to anywhere near its full potential, we would be steamrolling a few teams, so hopefully we can do that soon. If you look at last week against Coleraine, we brought on Mulgrew, Nasseri and Manzinga – three quality substitutes. The depth of the squad is frightening and you could put two starting XI’s out there and both teams could finish in the top three. The aim is to get on a good run of form and start putting in some good performances.

“It has been very frustrating that when other teams are dropping points around us, we aren’t taking advantage when the door opens. Larne have dropped points since the turn of the year and we definitely haven’t taken advantage the way we could have. However, these things are now the past and when you look to the next game you just want to start afresh as you can’t change the past, so we won’t dwell on it any further.”

All the very best to Chris and his teammates for tonight’s tough battle against a strong Larne team at Windsor Park and we all hope that it won’t be long before he gets to sample his wish of a large Linfield crowd at matches
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