MICHAEL JOHNSON – Man City’s Most Important Player?

6 Oct

When you think of the stars of this current Man City squad, the names of Carlos Tévez, David Silva and Mario Balotelli will be right up there at the top of the list. Possibly even Joe Hart, England’s current number one. Should I go as far as Vincent Kompany, Yaya Touré and Adam Johnson? But let’s ignore those players and focus on the man whom I firmly believe is the missing ingredient in our quest for the Premier League title. Michael Johnson.

Remember him? The promising box-to-box midfielder whose superb performances at the start of his City career led to comparisons with Colin Bell. Now Johnson is the forgotten man at Eastlands, someone who is always on the verge of returning from injury, but never quite making it onto the pitch, with the exception of one match in the Carling Cup last season.

A succession of serious injuries have ground Johnson’s career to a halt. A career that was blossoming and had led to him being linked with an England call-up. A career that had so much promise and so much to offer, curtailed by three long-term injuries. Talk of a drugs ban, similar to that of Rio Ferdinand’s, surfaced but were quickly rubbished by City sources. Ever wonder why he kept returning to training but always broke down again as he was about to play for the first team? An eight months drugs ban perhaps that was kept hidden from the media.

But let’s move on and look at why the title of this article may well be true. My good friend Roberto Mancini has taken criticism for the negative tactics he has employed this season. Whether we are playing host to Chelsea or entertaining Blackburn, travelling to Tottenham or visiting Wigan, Mancini’s favoured formation has been to employ three defensively minded midfielders, Yaya Toure, Nigel de Jong and Gareth Barry, in an effort to stifle the opposition and hope to score a goal or two on the counter-attack.

And whilst it has, for the large part, worked successfully, there have been moments in matches where the crowd have cried out for a more attacking outlook. ‘Do we really need all three defensive midfielders on the pitch at home to a weak side’ has been a question uttered with regularity by disgruntled fans, still harking back to the days of Benarbia and Berkovic. And whilst I have utter faith in our manager, it does seem to me that what we have lacked this season is a Frank Lampard, or dare I say it, a Stephen Ireland figure, breaking from midfield to supplement the attack.

De Jong is a fantastic, no-nonsense player, but is never likely to stride forward and join the attack, likewise Patrick Vieira. Gareth Barry has done his best, but it’s not his natural game, whilst Touré, who has been the one pushed forward the most by Mancini, has failed to sparkle, only scoring once and has looked lethargic on occasions. Whereas Chelsea have Lampard to surge forward, set up and score goals and be a real threat, we have no-one and are over-reliant on captain Carlos Tévez to fire us to glory.

Everton have Tim Cahill, Arsenal employ Cesc Fabregas, Tottenham use Luka Modric and Liverpool can call upon the instrumental Steven Gerrard. Yes, you can argue that James Milner could do that job for us and I would have to agree, but Mancini views him as a wide man.

For me, the forgotten man Johnson could do this role with aplomb. Once he regains his fitness, he is the one player we have at the club with the capability to go from box-to-box and be a real threat  in the attacking third. Anyone who saw his sublime outside of the right foot strike against Derby two seasons ago will bear witness to that. I may be overstating his importance by naming him as our most important player, but I firmly believe he could be the man to fire us to success this season.

Do you agree with my views? Let me know below what you think about Johnson and who you believe is the most important player at the club.


19 Responses to “MICHAEL JOHNSON – Man City’s Most Important Player?”

  1. Alan Meadows 06/10/2010 at 5:19 pm #

    I absolutely agree, and through my pale blue tinted glasses was hoping that one day I would see Michael and Stephen Ireland as the midfield two, with the like of SWP and Adam Johnson wide, with two up front……ah dream on Alan, you’ll be expecting us to attack teams next!!!!!!

  2. alan fields 06/10/2010 at 5:29 pm #

    Yea we never attack teams alan, that’s why we are second in the league.
    Also if we play three midfielder, that must mean that are defensive as well.

  3. alan grassplains 06/10/2010 at 5:31 pm #

    Missed several words out^

  4. CiTyBlUe 06/10/2010 at 5:47 pm #

    Michael Johnson is far far far from a forgotten man, I have said in the past pre Thaksin that the worst thing that could ever happen would be for City to release Michael Johnson. Either that or if Michael johnson retired due to injury.

    Johnson is a Manchester lad, he is the closest thing we have to homegrown.

  5. CiTyBlUe 06/10/2010 at 5:49 pm #

    Saying that though he supported Leeds United, atleast it wasnt scum United.

    I pray and will keep on praying he regains form and breaks through under Mancini.

  6. Joey 06/10/2010 at 6:22 pm #

    Finally a worth reading article.

    Yes I agree and miss him kinda. Hope he gets to be part soon.

    Any news from him at all?

  7. Ricky 06/10/2010 at 7:01 pm #

    My god he’s put a lot of weight on – maybe that’s the root of the fitness problems.

    I think that he would have fitted in well when we were a mid-table team however, is an injury prone player that hasn’t played two games in a row for how long (?) really what we need right now. I think we can use the players that we currently employ on a regular basis to do the same as what we would if MJ were to return to the side. As you said, Milner is more than capable of doing a similar job – however, i feel this is when we will start missing Craig Bellamy – a quality and consistent wing player to play on the wings whilst Milner darts from box-to-box.

  8. CHED EVANS IS MY HERO!!! 06/10/2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Not sure Johnson is the missing piece of the Manchester City puzzle…..Bellamy is, just like Ricky said.

    8 month drug ban? Really? I mean it is a distinct possibility….he may have got frustrated and tried to take something to speed up his recovery? Hmm……very interesting.

    I think in time, Milner or Silva will bve the one who takes the role Johnson used to play, but credit where it is due, that was a sublime goal against Derby and he also scored a cracker against VIlla if I remember correctly? He played a one-two with Elano?

    Good blog Steven because it raises a lot of questions which people have not thought about….maybe you could continure this trend with….Stuart Taylor, our Number 1? Hahahahaa or maybe do challenges like who will get the first eleven LB spot….Bridge, Kolarov or Lescott….and the same for RB, Richards, Zabaleta or Boateng?

    Another idea for a blog is one you could do at Christmas where by you weigh up our position then, and then predict how far we can go?

    Just and idea anyway!:)

    Keep up the good word, and anyone else who reads this, join the view from a blue facebook page 🙂

  9. Zorrin 07/10/2010 at 4:54 am #

    No,I disagree.

    He’s our least important player. To claim he’s our most important player is absolutely mental. He’s not even our most important Johnson.

    If George Best or Paul Gascoine had achieved absolutely nothing before their demons caught up with them,they would still be some way ahead of the Johnson-who-ate-all-the-pies.

    You don’t recover full fitness in nightclubs,no matter howmuch you dance.

  10. jak 07/10/2010 at 5:54 am #

    WE can talk about potential for his whole career, but at some point he has to stay on the park and prove it. Can he be another Colin Bell, well maybe, he must be given every chance to shine.

  11. It's Grim Oop North 07/10/2010 at 8:53 am #

    We’d all love johnno to make a successful return from injury, and prove himself at the top, but as it doesn’t look like happening anytime soon, I think he may have missed the boat.

    The man to really kick start our season is Mario Balotelli – if he plays like the clips I saw on Vital Man City earlier this season, then he’ll set the Premiership on fire, and we’ll steamroller allcomers!

    • Jimster 08/10/2010 at 9:05 am #

      The kid had talent, but what has he done lately? The owners don’t want to hang about (ask Yozzer) and unfortunately I think he’s missed the boat – the club now have other players that are doing his job.

      I’d love to see him play his way back in, but can he graft like that?

      Tevez is our most important player, and Balotelli the key to Mancini being able to use “Plan A”.

      “If you build it they will come.”

  12. Muzz 07/10/2010 at 12:04 pm #

    mancini has been constrained in his options this season. he has said all along that once you have two quality full backs (kolarov and boateng) up to speed who can attack but not forget defence, you do not need to be so defensive in midfield and can have another attacker alongside tevez. that means balotelli and adebayor fighting it out to go along tev, and silva and adam johnson sometimes starting together, meaning only two from milner, dejong, barry and toure. it would be broadly a 442 but much more fluid than that suggests. i put milner in the defensive mid category only because it’s clear he doesnt have the final ball/finish of AJ, Silva, Tevez and co, and maybe mancini knows he doesnt have to be put wide once the fullback issue is sorted.
    theoretically at least there is no reason why Michael Johnson cant fight for a place in the centre-mid if he proves his fitness. NDJ is vital to the team at the moment but most of us realise his limitations which may make him expendable as we progress. likewise barry. the decision to put ade and AJ on in good time last week instead of yaya and barry was encouraging and shows the kind of direction we could go in.

    • It's Grim Oop North 07/10/2010 at 1:20 pm #

      Very good points Muzz.
      I’d like to add to your assertion that Mancini will play a more fluid, complex 4-4-2.
      I think Mancini has in mind changes in formation within games, and is assembling a squad who have the abilities needed to carry this out.
      He wants players who can switch flanks, drop back, press forward, speed the game up, slow it back down.
      He uses impact substitutions to undo weary defences, which is why this nonsense about Adam Johnson and SWP etc.. not getting game starts meaning Mancio doesn’t like them anymore is plain wrong.
      The modern game means you may play a full season without completing 90 minutes, yet appear in every match – many players can only give a top level performance for a matter of minutes, not hours, and so the use of three subs is paramount to Mancini’s tactics – especially attacking midfielders and strikers, who rely on bursts of speed to get by packed defences.
      To play at such breakneck speed will bring injuries, and so what appears to be a top heavy squad, is in fact the bare minimum for a long season in all competitions (we obviously downgraded the League Cup because of fixture congestion this year).
      Mancini is showing himself to be a far more complicated tactician than the lazy media would stereotype him, I have full faith in his ability to deliver us the silverware we have lacked for so long.

  13. Muzz 08/10/2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Indeed G U North, the variety and the fluidity is coming; the one area where even further work might be needed is conventional wingplay, going down the line and getting a good ball over. to use united as an example, even when they dont play well they turn up the pressure by piling the ball and extra men into the box, creating the chaos that often leads to goals. though i’m not saying we will need to depend upon this more basic method of play, we will need to have it in our locker, so players like Johnson who pick passes at the right pace will be useful

  14. MAN CITY FOREVER 08/10/2010 at 1:43 pm #

    I hope Roberto(Mancini) give him(Micheal) a chance to play at the first team.

    I also believe Micheal will going to spark out but he need a time to fully recovered

  15. GaryCooksNapkin 08/10/2010 at 2:05 pm #

    Muzz & GoN have it correct. The master plan has yet to start. It’s all about the flying fullbacks and hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of the real City Juggernaut at home to the Tangerines. On paper an excellent fixture to try out the new formation.

    Mancini has proven so far he can change the tactics when needed and now we’ve built up some momentum and confidence, it’s time to unleash the secret weapons of Kolarov & Boateng together

    I liked MJ but he didnt stick with his rehab properly. sad it maybe, but he’s nowhere near our best player, stop with the misty eyed nonsense and move on

    Onwards the blue revolution!

    • Alex 08/10/2010 at 2:21 pm #

      Stephen Ireland!!!

      Couldn’t have been more happier when the club sold him.

  16. Jack Goodyear 17/10/2010 at 1:08 am #

    442 diamond

    boateng – kompany – k.toure – kolorov
    de jong
    aj milner
    ballotelli tevez

    best city team and will win the league no matter what

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