While the injury to Theo Walcott would have slightly marred England’s excellent 3-1 win in Basel, it did give Manchester City winger Adam Johnson a chance to enhance his ever growing reputation. The former Middlesbrough man did just that with an confident display that saw him get his second England goal in as many games.
The performance of Johnson summed up a year in which his only disappointment was failing to earn a surprise call-up in to the England World Cup squad. Capello’s decision to opt against taking Johnson to South Africa was another one grave mistakes from the Italian that lead to the oh so disappointing tournament in South Africa.
Ever since Johnson’s move to Eastlands in January, the 23-year-old’s progress has been remarkable and he is now arguably the brightest young prospect for both club and country. His rise to prominence has been nothing short of spectacular. For years he played second fiddle to Stewart Downing at the Riverside but ever since Downing’s move to Aston Villa, Johnson hasn’t looked back.
In the Championship he showed his potential and class and Roberto Mancini soon took the plunge on the highly rated winger. In an era of big money transfers at Eastlands, it made a refreshing change to see them not only snap up an English prospect, but throw him straight in to the first-team.
It begs the question why nobody else took a punt with Johnson? Compared to some young prospects he was relatively cheap, and although he achieved most of the success for Middlesbrough in the Championship he did have Premier League experience. I’d certainly rather have Johnson in my side then most, if not all of the young Premier League wingers.
But it was City that did and the result has been nothing sort of extraordinary as Johnson brushed aside the likes of Shaun Wright Phillips and Stephen Ireland to earn a regular starting place. Mancini opted to deploy Johnson on the right, which compensates for his lack of genuine pace allowing him to cut inside on to his deadly left foot.
The question is how good could Johnson be? If he continues his rapid progression then his potential is endless and I bet the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are looking back with regret that they never took a chance on the future England star.