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Great Aj Interview In The Echo


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WEST HAM have spent money this summer as if it has been going out fashion but there are still things Eggert Magnusson’s riches can’t buy.


Though the Icelandic entrepreneur had designs on signing Andrew Johnson, his pursuit of the costliest player in Everton’s history was doomed to failure from the start.The reason was refreshingly simple.


Despite putting together a package that would have trebled his current salary, Johnson was not in the slightest bit interested. Settled on Merseyside and idolised by supporters, this England international believes he has found his spiritual home.


Leave? There is more chance of accurately predicting this weekend’s lottery numbers than Johnson walking away from his current lot and he is adamant things at Goodison Park are about to get even better for him and his team-mates.


Magnusson might have been able to put a couple of more zeroes on the end of his bank account but that would have been all.


In terms of history, heritage and potential, there is no comparison between Everton and West Ham and Johnson knows he is at a unique club.


That is why has worked so hard during his summer break to ensure he hits the ground running when Wigan - another of his former suitors - become Goodison’s first visitors on August 11.


The ankle problem which curtailed his first season with the Blueshas been rectified thanks to surgery and his appetite for goals is bigger than ever; now Johnson is desperate to play a part in helping his side open an exciting new chapter.


“I came here because of the fans, first and foremost, because you play in front of 40,000 week in, week out,” said Johnson.


“The games that stick out last year are Tottenham away and Liverpool at home and playing in Europe for them will be fantastic.


“This is one of the biggest clubs in British football and when you see the likes of Mikel Arteta and Tim Cahill sign new deals, it shows that we mean business.


“The club aren’t going to mess about. We are going forward and I am so happy here.


“There is no way I’m leaving. No way at all. It never, ever, crossed my mind when I saw the stories. It was just speculation and you can’t stop that.


“I suppose the speculation is good because it means you are doing your job properly.


“I must have been doing something right last year. But the speculation was there for Tim and Mikel, too. It was silly. Stupid figures and stupid money. But it hasn’t unsettled any of us.


“Tim and Mickey are sorted and I’ve got four years left. I’m not going anywhere.”


Given he has now fully immersed himself in the Everton way, it would be reasonable to expect Johnson to surpass last season’s return of 12 goals and he, too, will be disappointed not to better that figure.


Though he found the net on seven occasions in the first couple of months, injuries and a crisis of confidence in the run up to Christmas stopped the £8.6m man in his tracks, so it is significant to hear him say now that he could not be in better shape.


“Pre-season is so important because if you miss out then, you’re playing catch up all year,” said Johnson.


“I’d had the ankle problem for two years, so it was always the intention to get it looked at this summer.


“If I caught it wrong in training, it would be sore for a while afterwards. So there were a couple of games last year when I didn’t really feel as if I was 100 per cent. I had niggles all year. I missed games because of my ankle, my knee and hamstring.


“Hopefully, if I can block them out this season, I’ll get a bit more consistency to my game and I obviously want to score plenty more goals.


“The boys are fantastic here and I feel really at home here. It’s the same for Joleon Lescott.


“We’ve been here for a year and bedded in. We had decent seasons last year but we are both looking to get better again.


“There is more to come from us and if I can keep injury free, you will see a lot more from me, all being well.”


Having looked sharp in his early paces - the only thing missing from Saturday’s display against Real Salt Lake was a goal - keeping Johnson fit for the season will be absolutely essential for David Moyes, whose side have four competitions on the agenda.


That, inevitably, means Johnson will have even more pressure on his slender shoulders from the moment the first ball is kicked but he is comfortable with that; if anything it should help spur him on.


Listening to Johnson speak, it is quite clear he will not be resting on his laurels nor does he expect qualifying for the UEFA Cup to be the zenith of Everton’s ambitions.


Individually and collectively, now is the time to be pushing on.


“I scored 12 last year which was okay, considering the injuries,” he said. “But the fans will expect more this time.


“I know expectations will be higher but I expect more from myself, too. I’m going to raise the bar and I want to get off to the start I had last year.


“If that happens, the goals will hopefully follow. We have set a standard now. We finished sixth and got into Europe, which was a fantastic achievement.


“But we won’t be expecting anything else this time. We’ve added to the squad and we want to do well.”


And if Johnson discovers his Midas touch, there is every chance that will happen.


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