Monday, 1 February 2010

Adam Johnson

Our second signing of the Mancini era, the first for a fee, and a possible pointer towards our future transfer policy: Adam Johnson is an interesting one.

In the immediate term it could be a helpful signing - with the departure of Robinho we're left with three attacking wide players, with question marks over the fitness of all three of them. Adam Johnson has been a rare good news story for Middlesbrough FC over the last year or two, impressing with his pace and ability both as an old fashioned outside-left and coming in off the right - as he did against us in the FA Cup game last month.

But as a pointer to a long term strategy it's more interesting. Under Mark Hughes the transfer policy was absolutely clear: established Premier League names, with experience at the top end of the table. It would not be unfair to say that Hughes' focus on these attributes verged into myopia. That Arsenal bought Thomas Vermaelen for 40% of what we paid for Joleon Lescott is slightly frustrating.

As Hughes left we heard that this was to change. Garry Cook said that the club would try to mimic Arsenal by signing young players and bringing them through. Roberto Mancini's first signing was Patrick Vieira - an old friend from Inter. He also looked at Marco Motta, Mathieu Flamini and McDonald Mariga - all from Serie A. But this is very different. A young English player, signed from the Championship. It is possible that Mancini was aware of him before, but it's much more likely that this was a transfer driven from elsewhere.

Almost certainly from Brian Marwood. Scouting and player recruitment come under his remit as Football Administration Officer. We know that he was the lead player in the attempted signing of Victor Moses. This is all conjecture but I imagine that he compiled a list of young British talent, at the behest of Garry Cook, and today's purchase of Johnson is the end-product.

So what does it tell us about the new era at City? Nothing out of the ordinary. I certainly don't think that it represents an undermining or an emasculating of Mancini to have player recruitment not entirely in his hands. He is coming from Inter, where the President Massimo Morrati, as well as Marco Branca and Gabriele Oriali are famously involved in transfer policy. So this will not be a culture shock to Mancini but quite the opposite. Beyond that, as an Italian who has spent almost his entire working life in Italian football, it would be unfair to expect Mancini to have a working knowledge of young British talent. So as a model of doing transfers it sounds smart. Expect more such purchases in future.


jfell said...

Cook said at the end of the 2009 summer widow that the next 12 months would be focused on buying the most talented youth from around the world (he may have said Sunderland). I find wingers the most exciting players to watch; beating an opponent is a most exciting art to watch and in Jinky(!!!) and Vlad the future is
Disappointed about Mariga especially seeing as he was at COMS this week agreeing terms!

Murtan said...

Well, I for one think that these kinds of signings; a more or less unknown Kenyan, a young championship player, and that left back from Kazan (wasn't it?) is far more exciting than trying to snap players from our nearest rivals (Terry, Lescott, or Touré). (Tévez is an exception here, since he wasn't wanted where he was.) It's more like when Sven was in charge, but a bit more focused, it seems.

Somehow I feel that the players brought in should be able to grow with us, and be remembered as City players, not just someone who spent some years at City. I understand that this is more risky than buying instant success, but when success finally comes - however slow - it will be so much sweeter!

I don't support City in order to see a team of soulless players win trophies, but rather to see My Team - with proud City hearts - trying to!

Robert said...

"(Tévez is an exception here, since he wasn't wanted where he was.)"{f9e570e6-407e-44bc-800f-4a3110258114}&newsid=6634810

Murtan said...

Hmm, ok, let me state it like this instead:

The feeling most people got when Carlos Tévez switched from red to blue was not the same as when Hughes more or less dragged Lescott from Everton. If that was merely due to one scotsman acting cooler than another, I don't know, but hopefully you will get my point.

And my point is, that it IS awkward when competing teams try to get hold of each other's players that are a vital part of their team. It's more... fair, or whatever is the right word (I'm not an native English speaking person) to build your team by giving chances to talented players on the up in lower league teams, or at least recruit from abroad.

(I'm sorry if I got the Tévez story wrong, I didn't mean to accuse anyone of anything, I just used his case for comparison.)