Johnson swapped the Etihad for the Stadium of Light in the summer after falling down and out of the pecking order at Manchester City, where he spent two years.
The Englishman, now 25 years old, was hailed as one of the nation’s most exciting young prospects back in 2010 when he made his move to City from Middlesbrough where he had performed most impressively.
In his final season at Middlesbrough, in the Championship 2009/10, he scored 12 goals in 28 appearances at just 22 years of age and, subsequently, earned himself a step up when Roberto Mancini, then just arrived himself in Manchester, brought Johnson in to the City project o a four-and-a-half year contract for a fee reportedly £8 million.
Johnson found it cumbersome to fully cement his status as a regular first-team player at City – his position was rivaled for by the likes of James Milner, and eventually Samir Nasri, as Mancini continued to bring in some of the finest talent the continent had to offer.
Johnson made 16 appearances in his first season at City, 43 in his second, and 38 in his third and scored 7 goals in both of the latter two. But that wasn’t enough to keep him satisfied and, upon his departure, Johnson commented on the predicament of signing for a club where you are not guaranteed a regular place in them team.
He alluded to the fact he had been unhappy with his status in Manchester and signed for Sunderland, returning to the North East where he had spent his youth with Newcastle and Middlesbrough.
Johnson has made 12 senior appearances for England, scoring 3 goals – I remember there was a time when he contended as the front-runner on the right-wing ahead of Theo Walcott and Aaron Lennon but Johnson has not been called back into the England squad since February 2012.
He was not included in England’s Euro 2012 squad, most likely because he hadn’t featured often enough for City. For Sunderland this term he’s made 35 appearances in all competitions and has scored 5 goals and made 8 assists in the Premier League but the question still remains – what happened to Adam Johnson?
He is clearly endowed with a remarkable talent but, as yet, hasn’t found a team that can fuel his form adequately. There is perhaps a more important question – what next for Adam Johnson? If he wants to reclaim his place in Roy Hodgson's World Cup 2014 squad, he may need to assess his options once more this summer.
image: © p_a_h