March 8 2014 Latest news:
Dave Evans, West Ham Correspondent
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Hammers centre back Roger Johnson is convinced that the club have enough to stay up this season
»est Ham loan defender Roger Johnson has certainly had a rollercoaster ride since he arrived from Wolves at the beginning of January.
Thrust into the team for the 6-0 Capital One Cup semi-final first leg crushing by Man City, he and the team bounced back with a clean sheet and a victory at Cardiff City, before back-to-back home defeats against Newcastle and City once again.
But the 30-year-old has certainly not been daunted by his baptism of fire back in the Premier League.
“I didn’t play in League One for Wolves, I went straight back into the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday, but it has been tough,” said the centre half.
“I have been out of the Premier League for two and a half seasons, but I know in my head that I can do it and thankfully the manager has given me the chance to prove that.”
Back-to-back relegations with Birmingham and Wolves means Johnson knows only too well what it is like to be in a struggling team, but he insists that the spirit in the camp at Upton Park is still high.
“The lads are a great bunch and they have accepted me well,” he said. “This is a massive football club and it is an honour to be here.
“The spirit is still good. Nobody wants to see us get relegated, certainly not me and everyone else is the same, we all know what we have got to do. We have to get the points on the board and start winning at home.
“This place was a fortress last season, we only lost four games and the manager is trying to drum that into us.”
West Ham’s next game is a daunting trip to Chelsea next Wednesday, but Johnson is pinpointing the games in February as the defining moment of the season.
“We will go to Chelsea and try and cause an upset, but their record speaks for itself, so we can only try and get a result, as we do for every game,” he said.
“But after that we have got Swansea and Norwich at home as well as Southampton and those games could well decide the season.
“February is a humongous month for us.”
Johnson has certainly been thrown in at the deep end since coming to Upton Park, but he is happy with how things have gone.
“I was fairly happy with the first game, I thought I did okay,” said the former Birmingham City centre back. “Despite losing 6-0, the manager said he was half pleased with me. The Cardiff game we got a clean sheet so I think I’ve done well in that, okay against Newcastle and against Man City I thought I did all right.
“It is tough when you lose to say you have done well, I’m certainly not saying I have done well and everyone else hasn’t, but we are in it together and I want to play as many games as I can, perform and help us stay in the league.”
With James Tomkins and James Collins likely to be back for the Chelsea game and Winston Reid slowly returning to fitness, the Hammers will have the strength in depth they need in central defence, but when the Hammers sent out an alarm bell for a defender, it was Johnson who commendably answered that call.