A Leeds United fan as a school boy for Everton Johnson signed for City in 2004. He was part of the City youth team that reached the 2006 FA Youth Cup final, his displays earned him his premiership debut against Wigan on 21 October 2006. Johnson has appeared 36 times in the league for City since.
His appearances brought comparisons to Colin Bell as the midfielder became the hub of the City Side that was challenging for the Champion League Places before Christmas 2007. Liverpool and Arsenal had reportedly bid for the midfielder before City offered him a lucrative contract to stay. However some niggling injuries and then a reported pelvic injury has kept him out of the side for the majority of the time since then.
In December 2008 it was widely rumoured that Johnson had lost his way mentally as well as physically. After signing his new lucrative deal it was alleged his work ethic had suffered as a consequence, combined with his injuries it was a distinct possibility that Johnson could become an also ran. Speaking in December 2008 Mark Bowen said:
“Michael is a young lad who has been unlucky, he has had a nagging injury that has held him back. When Michael in on the training ground and is focused he is a fantastic asset for this club. When young players have been in and out of action as long as he has it can mess your mind up a little bit because they just want to be out there playing. He has just got to be strong, fight through it, train hard and get back in the team. In the early part of the season he was a big player for us and we miss him.”
Pukka Pies: Johnson
The good news however is that it would appear Johnson has taken on board Bowen’s advice and is now close to giving manager Mark Hughes even more choices in the midfield department at City. Hughes told the official website:
“It has been a real frustration for Michael and for us but he has worked hard through the summer and is in much better shape.. The main thing is hopefully keeping him pain free which was the concern last year when he was always getting niggles that held him back. He is very positive at the moment and hopefully he can have a good pre-season, clear of injury and he will be an option for us.”
Johnson would be challenging Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany for a place in the engine room. Hughes is very hopeful that Johnson is now over his problems and the manager believes that his attributes will be a major bonus for the team this year. Hughes added:
“I was impressed before he got injured. We haven’t seen enough of him in the Blue shirt. Hopefully that will change... ...We can see why the lofty labels were put on him because he has a lot of the attributes that would be really helpful to the team and he was a big loss last year. There were games in which he would have undoubtedly have had an impact.
“Hopefully we have now got to the bottom of the problem and he is more confident that his body will stand up to the rigors of Premier League football. Hopefully he is clear in his own mind that he is over the injuries.”
Let’s all hope Johnson can keep his head and get some luck with injuries, at 21 he could still prove to be one of the best players for Manchester City and England.
Believe the hype: Johnson's goal against Derby