by Josh Green
A young, quick, skilful, left midfielder, with bags of potential who was never given a fair crack of the whip at Manchester City. I have read and heard that Johnson is the answer to England’s lack of flair and that Mancini treated him unfairly and didn’t give him a chance.
All of the above couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality Adam Johnson is not very quick at all. If the odds were good enough, I would have a punt on Jamie Carragher beating the winger in a race, or at least it would be close to call. Johnson is no longer ‘a star for the future’ either; he is 25 years old now and should be at his peak. To put things in perspective, his former team-mate, David Silva is 26 years old. Nobody talks about him being one for the future because he is performing to a high level in the present and gets a starting role because of it.
Another Adam Johnson ‘fairy tale’, concocted by some individuals, is that the winger was never given his chance to shine at City. Well the Englishman made 97 appearances for City within 3 years, which suggests he was given a fair chance. I have seen for myself Adam Johnson jink past a couple of players and put in a cross. I’ve seen him tee the ball and curl it into the top corner of the opposition’s net with his left foot, but these moments became rarer and rarer as his City career went on.
If Adam did score in a game that would mark the end of his contribution. He would stop tracking back, seeming to think a starting place for next week’s game had been secured. Much to his surprise he would discover this wasn’t the case. Cue the A.J sulk face.
The 25 year old, now at Sunderland, truly was a “Match Of The Day player”, often scoring a spectacular goal and getting the better of a full back once or twice in a game, but that’s all he did. No tracking back and poor work rate, but you don’t see the whole picture in the short highlights provided. Other football fans would often see these highlights and then question “why do City never start Johnson?”
This summer, Johnson left City for 10 million pounds, to join Sunderland, his place of birth. I thought this was good move for him and City. I was sure we wouldn’t miss him. On the 6th of October this season, Sunderland had to travel to the Etihad Stadium to play Manchester City. This was the winger’s chance to answer his critics and prove to his former manager, Mancini, that he really was a top player. Instead Johnson put in a typical “A.J performance” that afternoon – if he could have been compared to anyone it would have been the Invisible Man. Alexsander Kolarov had him in his pocket and Johnson showed no ambition to get himself out of the Serbian’s pocket. All the Sunderland man proved was that Mancini was right all along.
Although Johnson has been named in the England squad to face Sweden, in this month’s friendly, the former City man will find himself missing out if he continues his Invisible Man impersonations. His best performance this season came against Morecambe in the League Cup, the rest have been very average.
The Sunderland fans are very passionate and they won’t accept a player shirking his responsibilities on the pitch, especially a big money signing. Time is running out for Adam Johnson to prove himself to be more than an average player in the Premier League, he really needs to knuckle down before he finds himself warming the bench for the Mackems.
Johnson has a great left foot and makes some really intelligent runs behind the defence but he has no pace to help him out. He has a few skilful tricks up his sleeve but all his positive attributes are undone by his massive lack of work rate and bad attitude.
I still hope Johnson can turn it around; he scored some great goals for City and he has the medals to show he was part of such a talented team, but time is no longer on his side and he may well have fallen victim to believing his own hype which was heaped upon by the “Great” British press.
Follow Josh on Twitter @JoshBlue92