Roger Johnson is firmly on the road to redemption

When thinking up blog subjects for the season ahead, ‘the redemption of Roger Johnson’ wouldn’t have been one I’ve had envisaged planning, writes Wolves blogger Tim Spiers.

Roger-Johnson_2630579

Just a few short months ago our bedraggled then-captain was the nearest thing to a hate figure at Molineux.

Rightly castigated for showing an appalling attitude as things went belly-up in our disastrous Premier League campaign, Johnson’s Wolves career was seemingly heading up a cul-de-sac to the point of no return.

Turning up worse for wear for training was the tip of the iceberg, but there were also strong rumours of dressing rooms spats (particular with Karl Henry) and a very public barney with Wayne Hennessey.

His demeanour after being dropped by Terry Connor was disgraceful at times.

When warming up as a sub at half time he barely spoke to his team mates and slumped off early back to the dressing room.

And anyone who was at Wigan on the final day of the season would have seen a player-supporter relationship on its knees.

Loud boos from the away end greeting Johnson as he strutted down the touchline when warming up.

In mockery the Wigan fans applauded him and that applause was reciprocated while, when the squad made its way onto the field for an end-of-season goodbye, Johnson stayed in the dressing room.

But it wasn’t the unsavoury incidents and his poor conduct that were the main problems.

They would have been easier to forgive had his form on the pitch not been atrocious, with several conceded goals the direct result of his individual mistakes.

Two dreadful displays against the old enemy, in particular at the Hawthorns when he was run ragged by Shane Long, hardly endeared him to supporters either.

His exit in the summer, then, seemed a mere formality.

But rumours of his next destination – a tenuous link to West Ham aside – were lacking and with Stale Solbakken talking of fresh starts the door was left ajar for Johnson to stay.

And, against all odds, Johnson has begun to redeem himself, to the extent that his name is regularly sung from the terraces.

He now hates Brummies again, according to the South bank and used be rubbish but is now alright, ala Jody Craddock.

So what’s brought about this startling change in fortunes?

Chiefly his performances have improved tenfold, albeit at a lower level.

As he did for the first few games of last season, Johnson looks commanding, strong and – most importantly – committed to the cause.

His natural leadership skills have come to the fore and he can regularly be seen barking orders at his team mates.

His concentration levels are high, he plays the ball out calmly and has made some excellent and brave last ditch tackles and blocks.

The manager must take great credit for offering an olive branch – if Mick McCarthy was still manager Johnson would surely have been out the door, but Solbakken’s measured, calm and diligent approach was exactly what the defender needed.

So for now it’s happy families, which can only be good news for our promotion prospects.

On his day he’s the best centre half in our squad by a country mile so a fit and happy Johnson is vital if we’re to trouble the top six.

Wisely the man himself has stayed tight-lipped about his redemption, and his torturous 2011-12 season, and most importantly his feelings towards the fans who vilified him.

Crass badge kissing and cringeworthy love-this-club sentiments are not called for right now.

We know he’s struggled to settle at Molineux so anything over-the-top or PR-spun wouldn’t go down well.

Graft, honesty and hard work – traits McCarthy would have loved him to show – are all that’s required.

His motivation for staying can be questioned (apparently he is the highest earner at the club and the only one who didn’t have an automatic wage reduction upon relegation), but if he’s performing on the pitch then that’s the bottom line.

Don’t forget, he will have been bitterly stung by last season’s events, with his reputation on the floor before suffering the indignity of being stripped of the captaincy.

And it can’t have been easy to return to the dressing room for pre-season training to face his team mates, many of whom will probably blame him for the disharmony caused last season.

With the wages he’s on sympathy doesn’t stretch too far, mind.

But whatever the reasons for staying, it’s just nice to have some harmony at Molineux again with a very good central defender marshalling the troops.

You won’t hear me singing his name just yet, but long may his redemption continue.

Comments for: "Roger Johnson is firmly on the road to redemption"

Noisy

Heaven and the Southbank have no greater love than that of a sinner who repenteth. I thought he would be a key part of the defence, but he was the most obvious sign of the disarray. Now he is playing well and that's good enough for me (especially of we are shelling out £40,000 a week).

Ye Olde South Bank

Hallelujah, brother Noisy ;-)

BALHAM WOLF

Personally, I am more concerned with S.Ward as he was made to look like a very ordinary defender by Zaha on Tuesday.

I would love him to make more tackles on a player like that and show his opponent who is boss.

Defence is crucial and I am still not convinced. Hopefully if we are doing well by the end of December we can buy some real quality. Would also be nice to score a few more goals. Hope we get a good result tomorrow which would be nice before the international break.

We are Wolves

johnnyrichards

Maybe cos he is ordinary or maybe he's not a defender more so, he's a utility player not a natural left back.

Westcott

I am afraid after watching WWFC for 39 years, I find it difficult to relate to some of these so called professionals.

The only reason Mr Johnson, is still in a WWFC shirt is because his reputation has preceeded him.

Lets give everyone a fair go and we all make mistakes, fair enough and I admire Stale for giving the team a blank script for themselves, but lets be honest, when I watch my beloved Wolves I watch Mr Johnson and Mr Henry and wince, the standard of the team is way below what it should be and has been for quite some time, oh how I wish for the quality that we had and feared no one. It's called quality players and we ain't got many and they are being paid a lot for not a lot.

Apologies

All the best

20k is poor

Have to agree with you there. Johnson was relegated with Birmingham and IMO he relied on Scott Dann too much, basically it was good business by Blues. Henry though even if a below standard Premiership midfielder does hold it together and drives the other players on. I can't fault the guy for that.

Stuart

Thats completley wrong that Johnson relied on Scott Dann (Who also got relegated with Blackburn Last Season). Johnson was outstanding with Birmingham and in the FA Cup. Dann is a player of now better quality than Johnson, and I believe Johnson to be a Premiership player. His Wolves career however shows why its called a 'Back Four', Johnson and Dann not only had eachother (Two Solid centre halfs) but had solid full backs in Liam Ridgwell and Stephen Carr. In the season Birmingham got relegated, they conceeding less goals that Half the Premier League.

You have to keep your best players, Roger was any worse than any other player last year bar a few, admittedly he didnt help himself on occasions, but was made a scape goat because of McCarthy Captain decisiion and his Transfer fee. Zubar whos heart is in the right place but depends on his pace and strength to cover his constant mistakes.

With a couple of Solid full backs, Foley could be. Wolves could have a very good defence for the First Time in a while. Berra will be great for the Championship has he has already proven before, but would need to be replaced if we were promoted.

Golden Wonder

Trust me mate. If you lot went down then we would be talking of a poorer crowd than 20k.

Essex Wolf

I'm calling your bluff: you haven't been to a single game this season. If you had, there is absolutely no way you would have written that. Johnson has been superb in defence and Henry has been good (not excellent, but good) in midfield. In fact, those two other subjects of criticism, Berra and Ward, have also been excellent, and I note that in last week's Football League Paper, they rated Ward as a 9 and said he was Man of the Match.

None of us like the astronomical wages, but you have to pay them to get the players. We have a good squad this season - and they have been playing well.

Alltid ulver!! Eilífu úlfur!! Allez les loups!! Immer Wölfe!! Zawsze wilki!! Bob amser yn bleiddiaid!! Forever Wolves, innit!! (There...that covers everyone from Stale to Jamie O'Hara)

Darlo Wolf

Agree with your sentiments and overawed by your language skills :-)

20k is poor

Thats not strictly true is it? just look at West Brom, they signed Gareth Mcauley on a free with low wages and he is immense.

Chris H

Just got back from the FA Football Museum in Manchester.There is a cap of Billy Wright's and medals from Stan Cullis on show,plus in bright lights a headline' Hail Wolves Champions of the World',plus a copy of the programme against Honved.Looks like it will be a long time before they put any more exhibits from us in there.

Silver Fox

He was a good player before coming to Molineux and is proving to still be a good player. There was lot more wrong with Wolves during their last year in the Prem than Roger Johnson, he was just an easy, high profile target. I have no idea of how we will fare this year, but if by chance we do go up then he has half a chance of being good enough when most of the other defenders don't. Maybe with that observation it's possible to see some of last year's problems.

However, no matter what happens there is proper football being played again by Wolves, and it is good to see. If it takes a year or two more to get back how much better it will be if we go up for good footballing reasons, and not simply having kicked and rushed our way out.

100%Wolf

Agree with you on this one Tim. Albeit rumours and grapevine talk, Roger possibly had personal problems at times last year, how true, I don't know? Regardless, at the moment I'm giving RJ the benefit of the doubt. If he does maintain his decent form, commitment and keeps his nose clean well into the New Year then I may start to at least hum along to the South Bank choir...whether or when I actually sing his name remains to be seen.

PA Wolves

Its the manner in which hes gone about his business this season thats endeared me to him.

Hes kept his head down, not been talking to the press as Tim pointed out, and has simply turned up and produced the goods on the pitch. Where it matters.

Its funny, I've also seen on the pitch the sort of leadership qualities that would make a good captain! I'm not suggesting he becomes captain, but I can see why MM handed him the armband. Its a shame MM couldnt see the bigger picture and the potential for disharmony in the ranks. The captain of the club needs to have played in the shirt and earn the right to captaincy. Not just be handed it.

But, dare I say it, if he keeps this new found attitude and form up for the next couple of seasons, then who knows, he may just get the armband back, and for the right reasons this time.

purewolves

Roger Johnson mmm. Wonder why he's turned himself around. Isn't there another transfer window coming in January.

Farmer Ted

We're a fickle bunch, us football fans. For all the reasons stated Johnson was a pariah, but, turning it round (so far) this season the fans soon forgive.

We didn't do a lot wrong on tuesday, the defence has generally been playing well and they are certainly good enough for this division despite hoisting the white flag in the Premiership. Ward got done by a bit of top class individualism and a linesman that should have gone to Specsavers.

Yet another defender has been allowed to go out on loan, but, with obvious gaps in the squad no one appears to be coming the other way. I cannot believe this is down to Moxey and Morgan, the money is there and they like us can see the needs. I just hope Stale is going through the options and lining one or two loanees up.

Difficult one tomorrow, but, with a stand in manager and uncertainty abounding, maybe we can take advantage. I'd take the point now.

chris hoggard

1 Farmer Ted, You do not believe this is down to Moxey? Come off it ,mate, if he could get away with it,he would sign you on loan,providing you didn't want paying much of course.

2 Good to see Roger Johnson doing so well.

purewolves

Roger Johnson mmm. I wonder why he appears to have turned a corner. Isn't there another transfer window opening in January.

Golden Nuggett

Spot on. The only reason he is still with us, is nobody wants him!!!!!!!!!

The only change is now he is a quiet, undemonstrative boor rather than a gobby one, No i don't forgive, he is not repentant, just realistic.

mardygit.

Purewolves, you are being very synical but his current form if he keeps up or as i think will get better, suggests to me that we will get our money back and more if he leaves.

cookyssweetleftfoot

Little surprise after last season that none of our defenders were targeted in the same way as Fletcher, Jarvis and Kites were in the summer ( with possible exception of Batth who Sheff Wed would have liked to have kept on.) To be fair Johnson has done all he could so far this season though the odd headed goal from a Sako corner would be nice. With Johnson's from and Foley's re-instatement to his proper position, the right side of our defence looks ok - am still concerned by the left side and the lack of any pressure on the two incumbents.

Loyal Wulfrian

I understand tight lipped under the circumstances, but saying sorry to the fans would be nice.

Albrightondek

I can remember writing after the infamous hangover incident that I did'nt think he should train with the other players for the rest of the season and for him to be sold in the summer.

More than anything else it was his attitude towards his fellow players that was the most disturbing. McCarthy had over the course of 5 or 6 years engendered an atmosphere of team spirit within the dressing room. Johnson, we learned later, appeared to have totally disrupted that harmony. Quite how and why we may never know.

This season, so far, there does'nt seem to be any animosity between Johnson and there rest of the squad. Perhaps the relinguishing of the captaincy may be one reason, which allows him to fully concentrate on his defensive duties. All good teams need an authoritive figure at the back, and Johnson in that respect fits the bill.

If he can maintain his form and approach that he has shown so far this season, then what appeared to be a liability will now be seen as an unexpected surprise asset for Solbakken and the club.

Ye Olde South Bank

A well-written article, Tim! Absolutely no offence meant here, but I find your usual style of over-elaborate, gushing metaphors and similes tends to detract immeasurably from the points you're trying to make. This article, however, is much more considered and poignant in its content and presentation. Please stick to this no-nonsense style, Tim, as it's easier on the eyes ;-)

Incidentally, I couldn't agree more with your final line. I'm very pleased with RJ's reintroduction to the fold (and much credit to him for that), but I need to see much more before being finally convinced. I wish him well in his rehab, though, because it takes a super-human effort to turn things around once you're labelled a pariah. Besides, who doesn't love a heart-warming story of redemption? UTW.

John De Wolf

Does anyone know if we could recall Hammil and Cassidy for the Blackburn trip?

Worrying in the injury front.

Is Ismail ready for a debut?

We got solbakken the club

Call me old fashioned but I like the thought of a drinkin, un-shaven centre back barking out orders and dishin out rollockins in my team. Roger Johnson has got undoubted arrogance and if he's like it with team mates its nailed on he's like it with the opposition. Being nicey nicey don't win promotions so I personally don't want him to change, after all, most good teams have these characters . He's been one of the main reasons for a decent start, so lets put the MM inspired drama behind us and keep singin his name. If we can stay hundred per cent comfortable with RJ then we only need another super Kevin Muscat for left back. Throw in a Shane Westley and Floyd Streete type for the other side of defence and I'd bet on that back four against the Gurkhas. Be strong,be bold, the futures old gold.

Au revoir our kid...

Lord Molineux

Super Kevin Muscat ??? A total liability. Cost us a home win against Grimsby which started the rot and let Albion overtake us. I and many others will never forgive him for that.

If we get another moron like him in the team then it certainly is Au revoir our kid

Hundred lines and detention for you WGSTC !

Brightonwolf

Depth and quality now a REAL problem for Wolves, hope we don't get caught out YET AGAIN tryin to do it on the CHEAP, the Moxey Way!!!

HAARLEM WOLF

JAMIE O'HARA ON SOCCER AM TOMORROW !!

Andy

He is too good for the Championship. He's not good enough for the Prem.

Look at SEB.

It could be argued that SEB didn't cost as much and was already a terrace hero before showing he wouldn't cut it at the higher level.

But look what happened when SEB wasn't being selected.

The bloke didn't speak out and kept his head down. 12 starts in 2009-10; 9 starts in 2010-11; 8 starts in 2011-12, and this on the back of two consecutive Championship golden boot awards.

I agree that RJ is showing some signs of improvement at this lower level and should be given our support once he crosses the white lines in a gold and black shirt.

Next week, especially after the two goals SEB scores in our 2-1 win tomorrow, lets see a blog entitled "SEB - Seriously Excellent Bloke".

Solentwolves

Sorry, I don't see the need for this article, Tim. There comes a time when raking over the coals seems unnecessary and the dust should be allowed to settle. (Apologies for the figurative language). I think RJ had already got the message without us continuing to rub his nose in it. I thought we were trying to look forward, not back. OK they're just my thoughts. Anyway, things don't look good on the injury front so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for us at Blackburn. UTW

PJB

Why rake all this up again. What happened last season is down to a lot more failures than RJ. He was clearly made unwelcome in the dressing room from day 1 and could hardly be accused of being any worse than Ward, Zubar, Stearman, Berra, Edwards, Henry and others during one of the worst episodes I have witnessed in over 50 years watching Wolves.

Shouldn't we be concentrating on the future.

We now have an injury situation on our hands which highlights our lack of any strength in depth. The thought of fielding a team at Blackburn likely to include the likes of Edwards, Forde and Nouble fills me with trepidation and this is a direct result of a lack of any strategic planning and proper investment by Morgan & Moxey since relegation became inevitable last February. The fiasco with Connor and lack of any attempt to rebuild a squad PRIOR TO the inevitable high profile departures is now beginning to show.

The real Bangkok wolf

I think Rodger is really good at this level but needs help if we go up which he did not have last season.

The man wants to do well and knows that the players around him a not good enough, even at this level.

I cant wait till Hennessey comes back.

I think Rodger will not taken any lip from him and will snap again.

Sell Hennessey in the summer and Jez can have a nice big bonus.

CalgaryWolf

RJ know's the only way out the Mol is to play well and keep quiet. Even if he is the highest earner I feel he would jump ship at the first chance (with a good pay day of course) The whole defence needs an upgrade including Mr.J. Not just for this season but the future. Get players in now and not rush to buy when we do make it back. We seem to be heading in the right direction, but the back line is still a major issue and this will be proven even more over time with injuries.

The club are badly at fault here for brushing all the troubles and dressing room unrest under the carpet. I nearly did not renew my season ticket because of this lack of honesty and opennesss from Wolves. I am now very distrustful of Wolves as I realise I am a marketing label. Roger Johnson is saying sorry in the only possible way - by his efforts on the pitch! He was very poor last season> So were the whole team, bar Hennessey and Fletcher. They were abject failures who showed no fight , nor skill and have suspect mentalities. The verdict is out on the rest, most of whom should have been told they are playing for their futures> So who else of last season's failures is redeeming themselves - Doyle, SEB and Berra (both maybe)? The rest have some way to go. Our bright start will now be severely tested with 2 wingers out and Hunt not available. Wolves must make sure Sako and Doumbia can last 90 mins as Wolves do fade in the last quarter. PLEASE, Stale, avoid putting Edwards on in the last 20 minutes!! Edwards has proved that he is suspect. What has happened to this lad? He is such a lightweight who constantly gives the ball away. We are a long way off being a promotion outfit, let's enjoy our team as a work in progress. Well done, Roger, for a bright start.Keep it up