Ståle Solbakken has brushed aside an on-pitch exchange with Roger Johnson during Saturday’s game with Watford, insisting: “He needs to keep that competitive edge.”
Johnson and Richard Stearman were involved in a lively discussion with the boss during a second half stoppage but all was sorted amicably, both at the time and in reviewing the match DVD on Monday.
And Solbakken has insisted he has no problem with players making their points, believing Johnson needs to show his passion to operate at the top of his game.
“Roger is very much one of those players who lives in the game,” said the boss.
“And he needs to be like that.
“He said that he wanted extra cover for Stears and I said: ‘No, you’re wrong’.
“So I had to prove it to him on Monday, showing him the little bit on the DVD and he agreed with me.
“We had gone to four at the back again because they were tired.
"I had a go at Stearman because they (Watford) were coming around to the right and Roger wanted Björn Sigurdarson to follow him because that’s what they probably did last season.
"Now I want Stearman to do it because he had no other guy there (to mark).
“And if we win the ball Stears then has Björn to play it out to.
“But in those situations you can end up with five or even six at the back, and then what do you do when you win the ball?
"There is no one to pass it to and so it will just come back again all the time.”
The boss has been pleased with Johnson’s impact this season, and admits he probably shares everyone’s frustrations at some of the goals conceded in recent weeks.
He added: “Roger has had to put up with a lot this season – in a way, I don’t think he thought he would play at all.
“And I think it also annoys him that we’re suddenly letting in cheap goals, like now.
“He’s been in decent form and he’s trained well.
“That’s the key now because when we have two free midweeks, we can get the fitness levels up and you can get some things going for someone again.”