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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Andy Johnson, Goodison Hero

So, Andy Johnson is now officially an Everton player, all for the princely sum of 8.6 million pounds. I'm delighted with the signing but must confess to having reservations about the fee.

I'll start with the positives. Johnson is the player we've been crying out for, he has pace in abundance and a good poacher's instinct. The highest finishing Everton teams under Moyes both featured a pacey striker (Radzinski for the magnificent 7th and then Marcus Bent for the fantastic 4th) but neither had anywhere near as good finishing ability as Johnson. The likes of Darren Bent and Bellamy showed last season just how effective pace can be with their impressive goal hauls. A hopeful long ball can turn in to a goal scoring opportunity just like that. With pace, you are always in with a chance, be it from an opposition mistake, a hopeful punt (and we do enough of that) or a sublime through ball (Lee Carsley had best get working on that). Johnson should compliment Beattie rather well, much the same as Beattie worked best in partnership with Kevin Phillips and Marian Pahars for Southampton.

The price though, I keep coming back to the price. In a realistic market, Johnson should have a value of no more than 6 million pounds, one successful Premiership season (albeit one where more than half of the goals scored were penalties - more on that to follow) and a couple of England caps in meaningless games shouldn't make for a huge transfer fee. That said, Peter Crouch - was he really worth the eight or so million sthat Liverpool paid? What about Ashton at 7.5 million pounds? It could be argued that both clubs paid over the odds there. In the case of Johnson, unlike Crouch and Ashton, where if my memory serves me correctly there was only the one club involved - Bolton, Wigan and Everton all offered 8.5 million for AJ. Surely then, that must be the going rate, whether it's a true reflection of value or not is irrelevant. There was no talk of the three clubs agreeing a ceiling price as was allegedly the case with Everton and Villa over James Beattie which again emphasises that all three clubs saw 8.5 million as a fair price.

What of the debate about his alleged diving and the number of penalties that contributed to the 21 Premiership goals he scored in 2004/2005? You can't strike them off his tally, rightly or wrongly, the history books will tell how 21 goals were scored by Johnson that season. I'm not going to claim that I've researched this extensively but I am pretty sure that at least two thirds of those penalties were won by Johnson himself, a player with his pace is always likely to be brought down in the area. This might be selective memory recall but I do remember thinking that most of his penalties were genuine at the time. An interesting question is who will take our penalty kicks next season (assuming we get some, ahem). Beattie is a confident and clinical taker, Arteta has taken them on occasions and now the addition of penalty specialist Johnson. One thing is for sure, we ought to be alright in a shooutout, or certainly better equipped than we were before.

Johnson is potentially the best signing we have made since Andrei Kanchelskis and we'll soon forget about the price when the goals start flying in. A Tony Cottee style debut hattrick wouldn't go amiss. Not only this, but I think we'll see a much improved James Beattie for having a regular partner upfront who has a bit of pace about him. It's often overlooked that Johnson's 21 goals came from him playing as a lone frontman, just think what he could in a 4-4-2! We now have in our side, two, one time 20+ goals a season strikers, that's pretty impressive, in fact, thinking about, we might be the only side in the league to have that. I'm not sure Rooney has scored 20 in the league and Van Nistelrooy is on the way out anyway. Chelsea don't, Henry doesn't have a partner with that record, although perhaps Bergkamp managed it at one point. Owen has never scored 20 league goals in a season so Newcastle aren't even close. Defoe and Keane? I don't think they have. No doubt if I'm wrong, it will be pointed out in the comments. For now though, I am happy that for once, Everton appear to be on the up and A Johnson is this time having a positive effect on the club.

As we're on the subject of Premiership strikers, may I apologise in advance for the triumphalism that follows?



There. Would you like Didier Drogba on loan, or something?

Back on topic, yes, Johnson will do well, I think. He's got hugely more natural ability than James Beattie: he and Cahill should link up well.

Let us hope that Sheva settles in better than the last big name Ukrainian striker to join a London club, eh AKR?

I think we're fine without the Drog as well, our strikeforce is rather impressive - if I say so myself and it's not like we don't have a recognised diver already!

Here's to a successful first season for both our new strikers eh Jawbox?

Apologies for all the "eh'ing" going on in that comment. I don't know what came over me.

He couldn't settle much worse, 'tis true...

In a funny way, the more seen of Rebrov, the better able to appreciate just how superb Shevchenko is...

Johnson's good - stronger than he looks, a hard worker - as with Darren Bent, has been forced to be so by the sole-striker way their teams have played...
Lescott will also be interesting to see. Often impressed when watching Wolves last season, though the last time I saw him he had a complete stinker. A hefty sum for someone with no Premiership experience, mind.
Ah well... where has all this Everton money come from, anyway...?
Surely not still the Wayne windfall?

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