Can Michael Johnson Make A Return To The City Starting Line-up?

One word sums up Michael Johnson's career so far: Tragic.

The Urmston-born player has talent, of that there is no doubt. The problem is he cannot seem to get away from injuries.

They have blighted his career since he burst onto the Premier League scene in 2007 fresh off reaching the FA Youth Cup Final with the Manchester City Academy.

He was age 18 when he made his debut for City and looked a hot prospect, with fans, players and pundits alike comparing him to City legend Colin Bell. A midfielder who was willing to the dirty work but also help in attack, he looked set for a bright future.

He gradually became a starter and repeatedly made the England U-19 team. Then the injuries struck.

He has had fleeting comebacks since his first injury in 2007, which has been followed on by two successive long-term injuries.

A positive for Johnson is that Mancini chose to include him in the 25-man squad, a big show of faith. The question is, can he break into the City first team? My answer is yes.

The best way to describe Johnson in terms of positioning is that of a box-to-box midfielder: a good tackler, a good passer, and a good attacker. He has very good link-up play, and has quite a shot on him.

His importance to the City line-up was displayed during Sven-Goran Eriksson's time as City Manager, as when he missed the rest of the season through injury, they faded away after starting brightly, largely down to the fact that they had no one to keep play together with smart, short passes.

That type of midfielder is an asset to any team, and City do seem to be lacking a real box-to-box midfielder, which is perhaps why Roberto Mancini picked him the 25-man squad.Johnson's style may not have been noticed that much on the pitch, but take him out and the team falls away.

City do like to keep the ball, and having a player who is adept at link-up play is very useful. As mentioned before he is a good tackler, which means he can get in and get the ball back for City when they've lost it.

He is also a lifelong City fan and an academy product, and in a time where City are criticised for their spending, having an academy player in the team is always good.

While I do not believe he would start every game should he be injury-free, I believe he would play an important part in any triumph City experience.

Mancini likes to rotate, and under this system, Johnson would certainly see time. I think he could even overtake Gareth Barry in the midfield, who despite a good start to this season, is somewhat falling out of form.

Also, Johnson is more attacking than Barry, while remaining a good tackler, which could be key if City are to become a more attacking side when the likes of Kolarov and Balotelli return to full fitness.

I genuinely believe Michael Johnson can become an important part of City again, despite the amount of money spent, and if he did, it would be one hell of a comeback. So good luck Michael Johnson, the whole blue half of Manchester is behind you.


This article was first seen on my new blog, Manchester Blue.

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