Reflections On Johnno
Cast your mind back to the start of Sven-Goran Eriksson's time in charge at City, and the impact Michael Johnson had...
His sublime winner against Derby broke City's long goal drought on home turf and announced a major new talent on the scene. Or so it seemed.
Compare and contrast with the news this week that he had his contract cancelled and left City before Christmas, the news leaking out after a photo of a bearded, heavy-faced Johnson was posted on Twitter.
What a sad turn of events for a player who seemed to be bound for glory at a young age. Go back to the end of the Stuart Pearce era, and Johnson played a key role in a run of away results that staved off relegation and came in stark contrast to the appalling home form that saw no league goals at CoMS after New Year's Day.
Months after an iffy debut in a terrible pasting at Wigan, Johnson was called up out of the blue for a visit to Middlesbrough. He looked perfectly at home as City carved out an invaluable win, and played a big part as the Blues managed to stay out of trouble.
Sven showed faith in the youngster in the next season, and the 'trajectory' looked good. What we know for definite is that a string of injuries that started in 2007/08 didn't help, what we heard from rumours were stories of a change in attitude and a fondness for the high-life, the kind of stories depressingly commonplace among young players who think they've 'made it.' A drink-driving conviction is, sadly, a matter of record and indefensible.
Unless Johnson confesses all, we'll never know if all the stories were true. He kept coming back, and Mark Hughes was a fan - he played in that trip to the Faroes, remember? - but it was a case of diminishing returns. And yet we still had glimpses of a serious talent - even in what turned out to be last appearance for City, when he scored from long range in a League Cup win over Scunthorpe in autumn 2009.
A loan to Leicester under Sven didn't work out, and now he's gone - for good? It doesn't look good from what little we've seen. Imagine a fit & firing Johnson in the City squad now?
One of the saddest things about this is that Johnson was (and is) a local lad brought through City's rightly lauded Academy system. There haven't been that many coming out of Platt Lane into the senior side from a postcode starting with 'M' of late, and with City casting their net further afield, Johnson's case may be even rarer. I hope I'm wrong on that score, and I hope he's not completely lost to the game.
all times East Manchester
Sa 19Jan 15h00 Fulham, The Etihad, PL
Sa 26Jan 12h45 Stoke City, Brittania Stadium, FAC4
Tu 29Jan 19h45 QPR, Loftus Road, PL
Su 03Feb 16h00 Liverpool, The Etihad, PL
Sa 09Feb 17h30 Southampton, St Mary's, PL