Today, Andy Johnson officially signed for QPR on a two year contract, leaving Fulham after four seasons of patchy service. Tim has a great run down of Andy’s impact at Fulham from earlier this year here, albeit with some not particularly glowing conclusions.
So what will we remember of Andy’s time at Fulham? Signed in the summer of 2008, Johnson represented the new beginning for Fulham under Roy Hodgson. Having been rescued from imminent disaster, Hodgson was putting his mark on the team by rebuilding the strike force and it was certainly made in his image – both Zamora and Johnson were hard grafters with a built in team ethic contributing to a new Fulham line up based on defensive solidity. This limited the attacking output for both players (AJ had a relatively meagre haul of 7 goals in his first term and Zamora became a fan scapegoat) yet Fulham finished the season in their highest ever position with both strikers gaining plaudits as the ‘hardest working strike partnership in the league’.
Unfortunately for AJ, this represented the high point in his Fulham career. Badly injured in an early Europa League game by a horrific tackle from an Amkar Perm player, Johnson was ruled our for a long period managed only 8 games in the league before injuring his knee and being ruled out for the season. He was never able to build upon his first solid season and missed out on the now mythical Fulham Europa League campaign that changed the fortunes of so many players – Gera, Zamora and Baird to name a few. This is the part of the problem with AJ. He was brought in as part of the rebuild but ended up missing the pinnacle of the Hodgson era and was never taken to heart by the Fulham faithful. Yes we chanted his name, but it seemed more because of his positive attitude and hard running than actual affection.
Which leads me on to the second part of the problem with AJ – his output. He is a classic English poacher, always ‘running the channels’, ‘pulling defenders out of position’ and all those other classic phrases from the English footballing lexicon. The problem was, he rarely achieved anything significant. Two more attacking managers have since come to Fulham and Johnson has only ever been a peripheral figure. Perhaps his greatest Fulham moment was scoring a hattrick in October against QPR. At that point it looked as though he might have turned a corner but he quickly fell back into not scoring before injury claimed most of his season.
So ultimately, he was the high profile striker who failed to deliver the goods. We should not overlook his role in our highest ever finish, but injury and poor form never allowed him to improve. No Fulham fans will be mourning his departure, with initial reaction seemingly one of mirth that QPR is his destination. He might just be a shrewd signing for them though – assuming the role that he was brought to Fulham for initially: an experienced player who can help make the team a solid outfit after a very close shave with relegation.
Born in the US, raised in the UK and now living in London, Alex has been following Fulham since the late 90s and is a current season ticket holder. Part time Football Manager addict.