Norwich FanZoner Ollie Baines questions what Bradley Johnson brings to the side in the wake of some indifferent displays this season.
Bradley Johnson. The third-lung. Work-horse. Tireless. Engine.
All very accurate descriptions of the former Arsenal youngster. There is no doubt he gives his everything and leaves nothing behind. Yet, there has been some debate surrounding his selection in the Norwich City side.
No-one could have any qualms about Johnson's work rate.
But the question is, is that good enough? Most clubs would bite your hand off for a player with hunger and desire. The predicament being his severe lack of technical ability. He can run all day. Close down attacks. Park the bus. However, it's his distinct lack of ability to break up the play and then create something. He lacks imagination in my eyes.
This season Norwich have been solid, despite their current league position they have managed to keep 10 clean sheets. A commendable fate; not partly due to the fact that Johnson has been a brick in the the wall at the heart of that three-man central midfield. On the flip side of the coin, you could argue that the Canaries need something different in the middle to spark a creative flair. With just 26 goals scored all season, Chris Hughton's side have been incredibly goal shy.
Now...my issue with Johnson.
A lot of fans praise his hard work and endeavour. I however, see it very differently. More often than not; the very ball Johnson wins back (to the delight of the Carrow Road faithful) is the very one he gave away some moments earlier. Conceding possession, he battles his way, through life and limb to take back what belongs to him. He will win back the ball and then proceed to give it away again and again. A vicious circle. Alongside Johnson stands Leroy Fer and Alex Tettey. Two players. One with all the defensive credentials of Johnson and more, who oozes some technical class too, alongside another exciting player who exudes an international attacking prowess.
Add to that mix someone like Jonny Howson who is back from injury and you have a wonderful array of complimenting attributes you want from your centre midfielders.
A good indication are the stats. Regarding pass success rate, Johnson has a total percentage of 75%. Might sound good; compare that to Alex Tettey who plays in the same position. He has a success rate of nearly 88%. Compare those stats further, this time in comparison to arguably the best midfielder in the Premier League, Yaya Toure, who is punching at nearly 91% of success passes in both the EPL and Champions League combined. In other words, he very rarely gives the ball away. Finally, lets compare Norwich City's defensive midfielder against Fulham's (conceded the most goals in Premier League). Scott Parker, is averaging a pass success rate of 86% - 11% more than Bradley Johnson.
Stats dont lie.
With only one assist to his name all season, I really don't see what he brings to the squad and feel his days in the first team are numbered.
It would seem Hughton has favour over Johnson. Personally, I don't quite see it.
Yet, with the capitulation of the Yellow Army in full swing, City might well need Johnson in their ranks to bully opposition forces.