Andy Johnson’s hat-trick and ongoing contract talks got me thinking. Should we renew? Tough call, but my instinct is that if we do it should be very much on our terms. He’s been a good player to have around, but the time he’s spent off the pitch should be a red
herring flag (herring indeed!) given his age (this may be very unfair, but may not be).
Johnson’s a strange player in that he seems to like us and we seem to like him (at the ground he’s exceedingly popular; on the internet you get more negativity but that’s to be expected), but he’s never really got any momentum going at the club. Most obviously, he missed the fun bit of the European run, and when the story of Fulham’s great seasons in the 2000s is written his contribution may be surprisingly light. Contrast Johnson with Diomansy Kamara, an inferior player who nevertheless made some telling interventions when we needed them most, or with Zoltan Gera, who flickered in and out of the team but who made himself memorable with some of the most enthralling moments some of us will ever see. Danny Murphy, who probably arrived at Fulham with more to prove than Johnson, has achieved his place in our affections through both big moments and consistent performances.
AJ’s goals have come against Wigan, Newcastle, Spurs, Sheffield Wednesday, Kettering, Portsmouth, West Brom, Bolton, FK Vetra, Amkar Perm, Wigan, Villa, Wolves, NSI Runavik, Crusaders, Split, Twente, Odense and QPR.
Now those goals all needed scoring and we’re very pleased he scored them, but until two days ago you couldn’t come up with a more humdrum catalogue of triumph if you tried (obviously you could: Eddie Johnson would have been delighted with that hit list, but Eddie Johnson wasn’t a highly paid frontline striker). Everyone else had their big moments, their event that would ensure a place in our memories long after they’re gone. Johnson was missing that. He’s been a good player for Fulham, but until Sunday there was no defining moment there. It’s tempting to think that we’ve never really seen him at his best, but is that right? Perhaps this has been him: good, but not quite what we’d hoped for. He must have felt this, and it must have nagged away at him.
So I’m glad QPR happened. It was a huge result, fun notwithstanding, and to grab a hat-trick like that instantly gives him his folk-lore. He’s worked hard for Fulham, and while his form may occasionally have disappointed, his effort never has. He deserved that moment, and whatever happens now, his place in the Fulham story is secure. Nice, one, AJ, chuffed for you.