Goal machine Danny Johnson backs himself to shine for Mansfield Town next season
Goal machine Danny Johnson backs himself to continue his scoring spree if new club Mansfield Town continue to create as many chances as they did last term.
Stags' biggest handicap last term was the lack of an out-an-out goalscorer and, with almost one in every two games for Orient last term and a career record of 165 goals in 322 games, Johnson believes he is the man Mansfield fans have been crying out for.
“I am delighted to be here and I am looking forward to the season,” he said.
“As a prolific goalscorer I back myself to score goals wherever I go.
“There has been a lot of changes at Leyton Orient and after discussions with the gaffer (Nigel Clough) here, everything fitted with what I was after.
“For a striker he told me about creating chances which is what I want, and obviously the ambitions of the club and what he wants from me.
“I had other offers in this league and above. But what it all came down to was what ticks all the boxes at this moment in my career?
“I am 28 and I want to experience something positive. This ticks all those boxes.”
Clough believes Johnson is in the prime of his career – and the striker agrees.
“I would say so,” he said. “I have had a few seasons in Scotland and then obviously I've had a full season in League Two last year and scored quite a few goals from not many chances.
“I do back myself and I put pressure on myself to score those goals, so I do believe I am hitting the prime of my career now and that I can kick on.
“It's a build-up of everything – experience, knowledge of the game, my know-how to be in the right place at the right time as I was against Mansfield last season.
“I feel as though I have got that ability to be there.
“People say it's luck but it's down to anticipation and reading the game. I think I am coming into the peak of that.”
Mansfield certainly felt the full force of Johnson as he bagged three goals against them in two games last season.
“They were three poacher's goals,” he smiled.
“One was reading off the rebound, and the first at Mansfield I just stood there and it hit me. As a striker you will take those all day long.
“They're probably the better goals you like to score as you've done nothing for them but they mean so much.
“The second in that game was gambling on a defensive mistake which last season I had a knack of penalising.”
Johnson believes playing down the centre helped him to his 20 goals in 48 games for the O's last season.
“I think it's down to a lot of things,” he said. “But throughout my career I have either played out on the left or right. I think last season was the first I had actually played down the middle every game.
“It was going back to those natural instincts when you were younger and playing as a striker, I have always had that natural ability to score goals.
“I am my own worst critic and if I am not scoring I will be very disappointed with myself.
“I do score a variety of goals. I am a poacher and pride myself on my poacher's instincts and being in the right place at the right time.
“But I scored a few goals last season from quite tight angles.
“I do have the belief that when I get the chance for a shot I will put it away.
“I do work hard, hassling defenders into mistakes, like I did all season. I am that energetic striker up front that wants to score goals for the team.”
Johnson was delighted to hear Clough speak about the large number of wasted chances last season.
“That was one of the main things he talked about – the number of chances created at the back end of the season,” he said.
“Being a striker that's a dream. I need chances to score goals.
“The pressure I put on myself is my driving force. I want to be the one that can score the goals for the team.
“It's a bit ridiculous, but I do say I should score in every game. I know it's pretty impossible to do. But I believe if I am getting a chance in every game I should be putting it away.”
Johnson is not setting an ultimate target as yet but is aiming high.
“I do have a target I want to get to each season and the first one is double figures,” he said.
“I don't really like to put a total figure on it but I do have high aspirations for my goal tally if I can get the chances.
“If you look at the chances I had last season, that was a good goal return. But at the back end I could have had a few more when I look back. I was pleased to score 20 and I want to get past that next season.”
Working under a big name like Clough was another great lure for him to join Mansfield.
“I had a great meeting with him and that's one of the main reasons I have come to this club,” he said.
“When you sit down and find a manager that everything clicks with with what he wants from you and what he can give you. “Obviously I can learn from him and that's a selling point for me.”
Johnson has had some tough times in his life which have shaped him into the hungry player he is today.
“I have had some non-league days when I was working in a factory and then I got back into the game,” he recalled.
“That grounding of working 6-6 shifts in a factory then going to play football at nights gave me the hunger and drive to play at a professional level and just enjoy the game.”He is also looking forward to the return of fans after Covid.
“When the fans are behind the team that's a positive, especially away teams coming to certain grounds. Last year it was pretty even without the crowds,” he said.
But Johnson knows how competitive next season will be and won't take anything for granted.
“Anyone can beat anyone in League Two and it's going to be a tough league with the teams that are coming down and the teams that missed out on promotion,” he said.,
“That top half is going to be really difficult. And the teams at the bottom can beat anyone on their day. So you have go to be switched on and turn up for every game.”
He added: “I just need to find somewhere to live up here now and concentrate on getting fit in the process of moving to the area.
“Not many people say it but I can't wait for pre-season. I've had a bit of a rest now and can't wait to get going.”