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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Tuesday, January 2nd 2018

Defeat can spur us on - Johnson

Lee Johnson wants his players to use their 5-0 defeat at Aston Villa as "the fire in the belly" to come back after a brief respite from Sky Bet Championship action.

City were shot down by their five-star hosts on Monday evening at Villa Park, following what has been a fixture-packed festive season for the Robins.

Johnson's side started well but found themselves 2-0 down at the interval. After signs of a potential fightback early in the second period, they conceded a further three as Villa found space on the counter attack.

Reflecting on the result, Johnson told BCTV: "I thought we were excellent in the first 20 minutes, I thought everything about our game was good.

"Their first goal killed us and I felt there was a handball in the build up to it. We’ll have to look at that again but it was my gut reaction at the time.

"I was disappointed in the lads at that point as I thought we stopped playing well.

"There was a foul in the second goal and again it was about seeing the game through to half-time, which we did.

I ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY

"At half-time I said to the players that I would take the responsibility because I wanted to go more gung-ho, so the third and fourth goal was my fault. I accept that responsibility.

"The reason behind going for the game at that point was because I believed we were the better side. I felt if we got one goal back we could peg them back.

"There was one great chance where Matty Taylor and Aden Flint got in each other’s way and didn’t finish it. So, the shape I changed to always left us slightly exposed but that gives a window for people to see how I believe in the group, to try and go and win the game.

"That may not have been very sensible because it may have been better to try and shut up shop and try not to concede again and maybe nick one back from a set piece.

"But we had our chance and they broke two or three times. They have players who are decent on the ball on the break. I take responsibility for the third and fourth goals but the fifth goal was lucky in my eyes."

EXCLUSIVE: JOHNSON DISCUSSES VILLA ON BCTV

TIME TO REST AFTER A GAME TOO FAR

Johnson says his players will be granted three days away from football now to switch off and recharge the batteries.

The next league encounter comes on January 13th against Norwich City at Ashton Gate. Before then trips to Watford and Manchester City await in the Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup respectively.

Johnson added: "It’s difficult because the boys have been brilliant! I can’t go into the dressing room and lambast anybody because they have been amazing. That result hurts us, make no mistake.

"The travelling support was fantastic. But was it a game too far, physically and mentally? I don’t know. We’ll have to assess that but I know I am going to give the boys a three-day break now to try and rest up."

PLAYERS MUST STEP UP

A depleted goal difference saw City slip below Cardiff City to fourth in the Championship table, despite the Bluebirds also tasting defeat to begin 2018.

City’s head coach continued: "We’re in a healthy position in the league table but I am disappointed by the goal difference today - that’s the biggest bugbear I have - but I need one or two players to step up now.

"Matty Taylor, Niclas Eliasson or Cauley Woodrow are all good players who now need to be a viable option. Taylor is nearing full sharpness and we have some big games coming.

"We can’t stop believing in what we have been doing well. That’s key for me: to keep believing and keep working hard and keep trusting each other.

LEARNING LESSONS

"We have to learn our lessons, whether we win, lose or draw. If you don’t win then you must learn.

"There are things we will have to go back to the drawing board on, we were poor from throw-ins today which is important because you get a number of them throughout a game. To be able to maintain the ball and win it back from an opposition throw is very important.

"We knocked the ball around well at times without posing a threat and I think that was down to the low energy levels. We normally play one-twos while driving through the gaps but today we we turning back out, enabling Villa to get back behind the ball.

"It’s a really painful one but we have to take it on the chin and use it as the fire in the belly to get the next result."

City head coach Lee Johnson watches from the dugout