Johnson meets his goals

The big news out of Elland Road today is that Bradley Johnson has rejected a three year contract extension with the club after ‘failing to agree personal terms’ – which is football talk for ‘give me more money!’

It would be hypocritical of me to criticise Bradley Johnson and his agent for trying to negotiate a better deal because I do the same thing every year and always drag my heels until I’ve negotiated the pay-rise I think I deserve. After all, if you get results it stands to reason that you should be rewarded for that success with a bigger slice of the ever-growing proverbial pie.

In the case of Bradley Johnson, it’s difficult to argue against his success. His goal at the beginning of last season was to get the club promoted and when the Bristol keeper spilled his cross into the path of Jermaine Beckford, Johnson was bouncing in joy as Becks poked it goalwards. Goal reached, job done, pay-rise and bonus criteria met.

With that in mind, I fully support the tactics being used by Bradders and his agent. I don’t envy the challenge they’ll face in trying to get Uncle Ken to loosen the purse-strings but it’s a battle of wits that capitalism is built on – a dog-eat-dog world where the labradoodle (Johnson) must face up to the experienced and ruthless pitbulls of Bates et al. Luckily for Johnson, even Bates needs a few labradoodles to keep the supporters happy, so he might just come out alive.

What I do question is whether we need this particular labradoodle for the next three years? Or do we need him at all for that matter?

An extension of three years means Johnson would be tied to the club until the summer of 2014. If Leeds United aren’t back in the Premier League by that point, I’d be extremely concerned about the progress the club has made, as I’m sure Bates et al would be too – and therein lies the problem.

I was questioning the ability of Bradley Johnson when we were in League One and the only thing that’s changed since we’ve entered the Championship is that Simon Grayson has moved him down the pecking order and started to use him as more of a squad player. For me to question the first team credentials of a player is one thing, but when the manager has started to tire of his wasteful 40 yard shots and inability to pass you have to wonder whose bright idea it was to sign him on for another three years?

I can’t help thinking that what we have here is another Andy Robinson. Someone who is a capable enough footballer at a certain level, but will inevitably fall down the pecking order as the team strengthens and progresses.

What this means is that we’re essentially signing a squad player who will presumably be amongst the highest earners at the club? Either that, or my ambition for Leeds United over the coming years differs from that of the management and owners?

Or maybe… just maybe… Bradley Johnson is the next Ronaldinho?