England international accepts change in attitude was needed, and is now aiming to do his talking on the pitch by helping club end its 35-year trophy drought by booking final place
The England international has also stressed that the resolve to end the club’s 35-year trophy drought is as strong as ever, despite the influx of a number of big-money foreign signings in recent seasons.
“I’ve always liked to have the pressure on me to perform,” Johnson said speaking to The Times. “I like to feel like a lot of people’s hopes are resting on me. It just spurs me on to try to do better and give them what they want. I’m not fazed by that.
“It’s obviously a massive day for myself as well as the team but if I’m not the match-winner, I don’t really care who else is as long as we win.
“It has got to the point where there is that much talk about it that everyone has got involved in it now [Manchester’s City 35-year trophy drought]. You can’t ignore it. All of the lads in the dressing room are so desperate to change that.”
The former Middlesbrough man has shown glimpses of his ability since his move to Eastlands in January 2010, yet is still waiting on the regular first team football he feels he deserves.
The 23-year-old has come under fire previously from boss Roberto Mancini and England manager Fabio Capello for his attitude, having claimed in a previous interview he would leave City if he was not given first-team football within six months.
“Maybe it was a test [being the subject of criticism],” Johnson continues. “I’ve always seemed to think I was quite level-headed. But obviously, if it is coming from the England manager, if he’s saying stuff like that as well as [your club manager], you’ve got to take it and have a look at it.
“That I came back having played well for England and couldn’t get into the team at City, it was more the frustration than anything. But it’s how you respond and I’ve got to do my talking on the pitch.
“Signing for City has changed my whole life. The fans have been brilliant with me, so I would never have considered that [leaving]. Just because a couple of things were said, no-one really knows what we talk about inside with the manager.
“We’ve had a lot of little chats on the training ground that people don’t see. Hopefully the stuff he’s saying now, that I’m a special player who can change games, that just spurs me on to prove him right.”
Johnson is now eager to show he has the attitude as well as the skill that can help him become a permanent fixture amongst the host of stars at Eastlands, starting with victory against Manchester United.
He continued: “Going to Wembley for a semi-final against United... this will be the biggest game I’ve been involved in. I don’t really know what to expect.
“I don’t think it’ll have a psychological boost over the long run. If we win, it’ll give us the bragging rights for the fans, but there’ll still be a final to play. We’ll get judged on our league table finishes over the next couple of years. That’s going to be a clearer measure.
“United have this knack of winning games late on and the knowhow of winning the Barclays Premier League. That’s the gap we have to bridge. But in a one-off game, it can go either way.
“I would hate to be one of those players who people look back on and say, ‘He was good player, played for England a bit and did this and that but didn’t have anything to show for it.’ ”