Man City Club Focus – Adam Johnson stakes City first-team claim

As the victorious Manchester City team exulted in front of their ecstatic supporters at Old Trafford, deep in the recesses of the players’ tunnel stood a morose figure in sky blue. Adam Johnson had failed to make even the substitutes bench for the biggest game of the Premier League season so far. As such, he missed out on etching his name in Manchester City history. He will forever be the man who missed out on the iconic performance of Roberto Mancini’s reign.

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 With City 1-0 down, and ceding possession in midfield, it was the waif-thin winger withdrawn as the Italian attempted to combat Los Submarinos Amarillos incisive passing with muscularity.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’

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