Michael Johnson

Johnson has clearly let himself go

With the transfer window reopening in just less than two weeks we’re likely to hear many rumours of players coming to and from Elland Road.

Thankfully Luciano Becchio is set to stay having signed a new three and a half year contract while Bradley Johnson could still be on his way out. One of the stand out rumours linking players with us could be quite convenient – not least as it would require very little change to the squad list should Bradley be shown the door.
Bradley’s namesake, Michael Johnson is the player we’re being linked with after the Man City midfielder has found it understandably hard to get into the first team at Eastlands. Johnson has been quoted as saying he would love to join Leeds as they are the team he supported as a child.

“You can’t pick or choose, but I’ve always been a Leeds fan. I’d love to play for them and a loan deal would be an ideal scenario.”

The 22 year old central midfielder broke into the Man City team in the 2006/2007 season but his best run of performances came in the 2008/2009 season, impressing alongside Stephen Ireland in what seemed a promising midfield combination. His run in the team was ended after a recurrence of a previous injury. A string of further injuries kept him out of the team while Man City went on their multi million pound spending spree – further damaging Johnson’s first team prospects. A serious knee injury that kept him out for over 10 months was the most recent knock to his development and he is now looking for a way to restart his career.

An obviously promising youngster (“the next Steven Gerrard” and “future England captain” both descriptions of him in his early years), Johnson seems not to have handled his setbacks that well- putting on weight and seemingly having aged beyond his years. He certainly looked a fantastic prospect when he started out in the Man City team but whether he can recapture that form is a different matter.

Simon Grayson does seem to have a penchant for signing Leeds fans and Michael Johnson could be seen as an ideal (and possibly more naturally gifted) replacement for Bradley. However, Grayson may be wary of gambling on a player who could find long runs of matches difficult and may not even have the ability to play at a competitive level anymore, despite his age.

As Johnson said, a loan deal would be an ideal scenario – it would allow Grayson to see if the player still has the ability and perhaps playing for his childhood team would instil Johnson with the desire and work ethic that seems to have been lost having experienced great expectancy, big contracts and a wild lifestyle too early.
Leeds United shouldn’t be seen as a rehab clinic for Premier League players but if Johnson can shed some pounds and recapture his former self, with Man City likely willing to cover the majority of his wages, it could be a gamble worth taking – especially on a loan.