Sunday’s snub exacerbated what had already been a miserable week for the former Middlesbrough man. No more or less ineffectual than many of his teammates during a stuttering first-half against Villarreal, it was Johnson who bore the brunt of Mancini’s fury. With City 1-0 down, and ceding possession in midfield, it was the waif-thin winger withdrawn as the Italian attempted to combat Los Submarinos Amarillos incisive passing with muscularity. Whilst the Italian manager was delighted with its effects – the Citizens resuscitated their fading Champions League hopes with a last-minute Sergio Aguero winner – the ignominy of being substituted so early on was written all over Johnson’s face.
His week, so drastically contrasting with the euphoria around the rest of the squad, captured in a microcosm a faltering start to the season in which appearances have been sporadic, and flashes of magic rare. A throwback to the traditional winger of a bygone age, a player for whom one-on-one duels with the opposition full-back is his raison d’