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Johnson Reveals Half-Time Words Of Wisdom

Lee Johnson revealed a little white lie laid the foundations for Bristol City’s second-half revival against Aston Villa at Ashton Gate.

The head coach saw his team trail as early as the fifth minute to Jack Grealish’s well-taken volley, but the hosts rallied after the break and turned the game on its head with goals from Tammy Abraham, Joe Bryan and Lee Tomlin securing a 3-1 victory.

When asked about his half-time team talk, Johnson stressed the need to take some weight off his players’ shoulders when they were up against it.

“This is the God’s honest truth – I said I don’t care if you get beaten 5-0,” the boss told Bristol City Player HD – and his team at the interval. “But please get on the ball and start passing it,” he added.

“Tammy was so isolated that we just couldn’t get near anybody, and they’re a decent side.

“I said to them ‘you’ve got a ten-minute spell when they might relax – just make sure that whatever you do, you get on the ball and pass it. Short, sharp, tight passes and things will open things up for you’.

“In the first half there was a real fear. This is a big club now and there’s a lot of pressure and expectation, and they’ve got to handle that.

“We were lucky not to be coming in two or three down at half-time – it could’ve been anything. Something needed to change.

“I managed to remove the fear at half-time by saying ‘I don’t care if we get beaten’, which was a blatant lie, but I felt it was the right thing to do to ease the pressure.

“Whether it was down to that or down to them, who knows, but I was really proud of the club – not just the players and the staff, but the supporters as well in the second half. We played the second half how we were meant to play the first half!

“That second-half performance is what we’re about – we could’ve scored five or six. I’m delighted for the players to get the win because it’s been a tough week.”

Johnson revealed Abraham was later substituted with an ankle problem that could rule him out of a potential debut for England Under-20s next week.

“Tammy has been struggling with an injury,” the head coach continued. “He’s done ever so well to play through it, but his left ankle is quite bad.

“He’s been called up to England Under-20s, but he’s not right. He did very well to even get out there today, which is another sign of his character. He just loves to play, and he’s still got himself a goal and an assist.”