As Roger Johnson finally leaves Wolves after three and half years, Luke Regan looks back at his time at Molineux and ponders whether he was the scapegoat or the villain of the piece?
Roger Johnson. Man, Myth, Centre Half of undoubted ability at one point or another, it’s just a shame we never seemed to see much of it. When I saw that Roger’s contract had been ended by mutual consent, two very obvious thoughts came to mind, First “Thank Christ that’s over” (it was considerably less blasphemous or polite than that) and secondly what will be the lasting memories of his nearly four year association at Wolves?
If you ask most Wolves fans their most recent memory of Roger Johnson it will of course be the now that now infamous appearance on Soccer AM. After a highlights package that featured very few Wolves clips, down beat, tired and frankly bored Roger uttered “Yeah, I used to be alright”.
While its hard to feel sorry for someone who picks up more in a week than I will in a year when I finish uni, to play the sport we all love, you can’t help but get the feeling that right now, he just wants to play football.
Let me get this straight, I’m going to look at all of Johnson’s time at Wolves, and while there are times I’ve actually questioned whether or not he was fully engaging his grey matter (That attempted kung fu clearance at home to Swansea), I will stand firm and say that on the one occasion I met Roger Johnson, I found him to be a perfectly down to earth bloke. Who was polite and took the time to say hello when the Fancast crew were at Compton to present Bakary Sako with his Player of the Season award not so long back.
Johnson signed a four year deal with Wolves in July 2011, for a rumoured £7m. Thankfully it turns out that it was considerably closer to £4m.
If my memory serves correct, the “Three M’s” only added two players that summer; Johnson and a certain Jamie O’Hara. Both on long contracts on big money. It’s safe to say we dropped one there! The former Birmingham City defender was immediately made club captain, which seemed popular at first but over time it seemed to become disruptive.
Johnson featured prominently until the 5-1 decimation at the hands of the stripy lot down the road and MM’s subsequent dismissal. He was then promptly dropped by interim boss Terry Connor, in a move that was probably designed to win the fans over as much as anything. He had a rough couple of months, he featured only twice more that season and had an on field spat with Wayne Hennessy.
Personally I would have given them both a pair of 16oz gloves and let them go for it right there and then but something tells me it would have been more handbags at dawn than Bowyer vs Dyer! Shame really. He was also reported to have turned up to training “under the influence”. Roger’s relationship with the fans never really recovered after that.
The following summer brought a fresh start for Johnson. With the appointment of Stale Solbakken, Wolves were entering the brave new world of possession football. Johnson looked comfortable at the level he was playing at once again, having had considerable success for Cardiff City in the Championship. Johnson played 42 games for Wolves that season, he even Scored two goals, one of which was a header from an O’Hara ping to score the first goal of the Saunders Error (pun intended) at Molinuex. You couldn’t make up a worse trinity for Wolves fans.
Truth be told had Wolves stuck with Solbakken, I believe Johnson would still be in or about the first team squad until at least the beginning of this season. He was doing well, 7 out of 10 most weeks, nothing spectacular, nothing too bad either. Following relegation to League One in 2013 and the arrival of Kenny Jacket, Johnson was soon placed on the transfer list.
We’ve not seen much of Roger since. Loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham formed his season last term, the highlights of which were a 6-0 drubbing away to Man City in the League Cup Semi Final where Johnson had a horror debut for the Hammers.
Roger never really settled in at Wolves, he was ultimately the villain of the piece. It was his reputation more so than his performances that meant he ended up in the “Bomb Squad”.
Like that of the rest of the team during the Premier League relegation season his performances weren’t fantastic but I feel that poor decisions on the Saunders’ part relegated Wolves, Johnson and the rest of team were near or in the play offs when Solbakken was sacked.
I can’t blame Roger Johnson for ending his contract. Football is a short career and if any of us were likely to lose over a million quid, I don’t think we’d just forget it to play for someone else! The only thing that we could question is why he didn’t play in the Under 21’s?
In summary, a comment less here and a wiser decision there and it could have been so much better for bother Johnson and Wolves. Good Luck at Charlton Rog. No hard feelings, were both better off without!