Too much too soon: Manchester City release former starlet Michael Johnson after four years in wilderness

Comment by Paddy von Behr

Once touted as the future of England’s central midfield, Michael Johnson has been told his services are no longer needed at Manchester City after the club confirmed his departure today.

The Urmston-born 24-year-old last featured for the club in 2009, coming off the bench in a Carling Cup tie with Scunthorpe United.

Johnson made his City debut in 2006, at the age of 18, and soon found himself featuring regularly for the club.

Playing alongside big names like Brazilian Elano, Johnson rarely looked out of place, earning him the highest praise imaginable from then England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

He was labelled one of the best English players of his generation and, during a productive time in City’s history, was linked with multi-million pound moves.

Liverpool were rumoured to be in the market for the composed youngster, but the Citizens were never interested in letting Johnson go.

That was until it became clear his attitude was an issue – Johnson was soon well known for his love of a night on the town.

Mark Hughes and his successor Roberto Mancini each deemed the midfielder unsuitable for the first team squad and he entered the footballing wilderness.

Johnson was sent on a season-long loan to Leicester City in 2011, but the contract was terminated in January 2012 after he just seven appearances.

The sad saga concluded with a second drink-driving charge for the troubled midfielder last May, landing him a £5,500 fine and a three-year ban.

He was offered a severance package by the club before Christmas and the two parties have finally gone their separate ways.

The latest pictures of Johnson to emerge suggest he is a long way from earning a new professional contract and it is tough to know what lies ahead.

Whatever his next step, Michael Johnson will be remembered as one of English football’s most notorious cases of what could have been.

Picture courtesy of Twitter, with thanks

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