Connect in the back of the net


Adam Johnson this week sealed a move to Sunderland. The 25 year old winger was often cited as the closest England have to Ryan Giggs and how he was the answer to England’s left wing woes. However, Johnson has often failed to live up to that promise.

25 is still young definitely, but at 25 Ryan Giggs was an important figure in Manchester United’s treble winning campaign of 1999, whereas Johnson in Manchester City’s dramatic title winning campaign was just seen as an impact substitute who often played more games off the bench than he did starting on it.

Mainly, Johnson started against the “weaker teams” such as against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Aston Villa or Blackburn Rovers. Roberto Mancini never had enough faith to play Johnson in the bigger games, especially at the tail end of last season, where Johnson didn’t even make the substitute bench, never mind the starting XI.

Yet everyone outside of Manchester City Football Club still sees Johnson as this amazing winger. Why then did Mancini then have so little faith in Johnson?

Mancini often said of Johnson that he; “did one or two or three things then decided that was enough, he needs to keep going” – which is another way of calling Johnson lazy. As a Manchester City fan myself I understand why Adam aggravated Mancini. When started, Johnson often went missing for long periods, failed to help out defensively and generally was quite lazy. When he picked up the ball, Johnson often tried to take on defenders – did so – and then either ran into a dead end, lost the ball or delivers a cross to no one.

Adam Johnson rarely showed Mancini why he should be picked ahead of teammates David Silva or Samir Nasri, and of his 15 goals for Manchester City, Johnson almost exclusively scored goals in big wins such as Sunderland 5-0 at home or Norwich home and away last year, winning 5-1 and 6-1 respectively. Two of his goals though were important but both came within his first year at the club, once against Sunderland – a last minute equaliser, and once against Newcastle – a late winner.

Johnson often failed to provide that something different that we all wanted, he underwhelmed when given chances by Mancini and is certainly, in my opinion, massively overrated by every non-Manchester City fan out there.

Nevertheless, Adam Johnson moving to Sunderland is an excellent piece of business for all parties. With regular game time and tall strikers such as Steven Fletcher to aim at, Johnson is at a team where he is the star man and maybe he can improve (as Mancini always wanted Johnson to) to the potential promised by his early days at City and at Middlesbrough. Sunderland now have a winger who can cause tired opposition problems and can score goals – which is a bonus in any team.

And City have £10m and £90,000 a week wages less to pay, most of it to be spent on Swansea winger Scott Sinclair who will be a cheaper asset for City (which is important under FFP) and can offer City something different – pace – an attribute that is one that City lack going forward.

It is certainly sad how Johnson never lived up to his promise, but he never showed the City faithful how he could be “the next Ryan Giggs”. At Sunderland, Johnson may become a cult icon, but at the high standards that City set, Johnson often came up short.


Written by Henry Francis

Follow me on Twitter @TheHenryFrancis

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