Mixed emotions for Cats fan Johnson

The 22-year-old winger came off the bench to snatch a point for his

new club at Sunderland on Sunday afternoon and maintain their hopes

of breaking into the Premier League’s top four. However, he later

admitted that, while delighted to have played such a significant

role in the game, he would rather have broken his City duck

anywhere but at the Stadium of Light. Sunderland-born Johnson was a

boyhood Black Cats fan and might very well have been playing his

football on Wearside had Steve Bruce got his way when former club

Middlesbrough decided to cash in one of their most successful

academy graduates in January. But City’s millions gave them the

edge in the race to sign him and so it was that the midfielder

found himself scoring his maiden goal for the club against the men

in red and white with many of his nearest and dearest sitting in

the stands wishing he had chosen another day on which to do so.

Johnson said: “If there was one place I probably wouldn’t have

wanted to score my first goal, it would probably have been here.

“But I am just thankful I have finally got off the mark because I

am a Manchester City player now. “But that’s how it goes, isn’t it?

That’s football.” Johnson’s intervention came in the nick of time

as the clock ticked towards the second minute of stoppage time at

the end of the game. His curling left-foot shot from just inside

the box evaded the unfortunate Craig Gordon, whose heroics up until

that point had almost single-handedly kept City at bay. In truth,

the visitors were so lacklustre before the break that manager

Roberto Mancini would have been delighted to get them back into the

dressing room just 1-0 down. They trailed after just nine minutes

to Kenwyne Jones’ ninth-minute header and rarely looked like

getting themselves back into the game during the opening 45

minutes. Indeed, the Italian withdrew left-back Wayne Bridge with

just 33 minutes gone to send on striker Roque Santa Cruz and then

replaced right-back Micah Richards with midfielder Patrick Vieira

19 minutes after the restart in a bid for fresh impetus. His team

were much improved after the break and had it not been for Gordon,

who made a string of fine saves, former Newcastle striker Craig

Bellamy alone might have claimed a hat-trick. Johnson said: “I said

that to him after the game coming off, it was going to take

something special to beat him. “Especially in the second half, he

kept some great efforts from us out. “We probably dominated the

second half, we them pegged back in and we created a number of

clear-cut chances. We probably could have nicked it if it wasn’t

for Craig.” Ultimately, it was left to Johnson to snatch a draw

which leaves City two points adrift of fourth-placed Tottenham with

a game in hand. He said: “The point, especially after our

first-half performance, is a good point. “But our main aim is to be

winning games and putting a good run together coming towards the

end of the season. “We still have a game in hand and we are looking

in quite good shape, but we have definitely got to improve.” Asked

after the game about Johnson’s chances of making a late run for a

place in Fabio Capello’s England World Cup squad, Mancini suggested

the tournament might come a little too early for him, but the man

himself will keep his fingers crossed. Johnson said: “I would love

to think I have an outside chance, but I have just got to try to

keep performing for Manchester City and hopefully, I get the call.

“You never know, stranger things have happened.”