Cohen backs Johnson to come good
George Cohen was the undisputed regular No.2 for the victorious ’66 side, augmenting Sir Alf Ramsey’s “wingless wonders” formation with adventurous runs forward to support attacks.
Now, Cohen thinks Johnson can do the same for Fabio Capello.
The Italian has chosen Johnson to start the last nine successive games, and Cohen is confident the Liverpool flyer will get the nod over the more defensively-minded Wes Brown of Manchester United.
“Brown doesn’t do bad there, but he’s not necessarily a right full-back, so I think this kid Johnson will be alright,” he said.
Johnson has been criticised for being caught too far forward, but Cohen reckons the ex-Portsmouth man is learning as he goes along.
“Johnson does get caught out occasionally, but he will learn – and learn very fast,” says Cohen, who won 37 caps for England.
“Perhaps his positional play is not what it should be, but he’s got a lot to think about.
“He’s got to get forward, and he is pretty good at that; he’s got good distribution is fast and strong.”
With many teams, including England, playing a single centre-forward in front of three supporting players and two defensive midfielders, full-backs are increasingly the only players with space to run into.
Ashley Cole’s foraging runs on the left have long been a feature of England’s play, and Johnson could do the same on the right – but Cohen reminds the former West Ham and Chelsea stopper of his responsibilities.
“You are a defender first, and if an attack breaks down because of you, you are responsible and have to get back," he said.
"But Johnson is strong enough and powerful enough to do that."