For many, Oli Johnson was a surprising signing when he joined Norwich from Stockport last January. That a player who hardly set the world alight at freefalling Stockport had earned a move to us was a bit out of the blue, but Oli was talented and made his move count. A few goals later (not least against Southend) and he was hugely popular with the crowd. But things haven’t quite been the same this season.
This isn’t a huge surprise, though, as undoubtedly talented young Oli is, the Championship was always going to be a different kettle of fish. With pockets full of flair and a certain directness often lacking in, say, Chris Martin, Oli had his plus points, but whether it was just all round rawness, low speed or a poor goalscoring record, Oli had to settle for a place on the bench for large parts of this season. In the end, he spent a valuable 3 months on loan at Yeovil where again showed that, while not prolific, he was certainly valued.
Johnson seems to have suffered the same fate as Anthony McNamee in that he was signed with a specific purpose and level in mind; getting out of League One. While it is fair to say that Ant has certainly had more of a shot at the Championship, both have found starts hard to come by and it may well be that their talents are more suited for the rough and tumble of league football than they are for the Premier League. McNamee at least has had a few starts this year and offers the team a clear alternative when the diamond isn’t working, but Oli always struggled to break in; initially behind Holt, Martin and Jackson, the addition of Wilbraham was a sign of things to come.
And so next season I feel its most likely that Oli will be running out on another pitch for another team. Whether that is at lower Championship level or back in League One (where he clearly has the ability to perform) is unknown. The lure of first team games is sure to attract the youngster, and it is a move all Norwich fans will both expect and wish him the best for.