It might be suspected that a Wales-England FA Cup final would not need a personal edge to it, but Roger Johnson has decided to give today's Wembley showdown one anyway. Last night the Cardiff centre-half took aim at Tony Adams, the Portsmouth assistant manager, who he credits with doing absolutely nothing for his career while his manager at Wycombe.
When Adams arrived at Adams Park for his first managerial position in 2003 he immediately took the armband off Johnson and his fellow Londoner is still angry about the rough treatment he received. So much so that the 25-year-old is clearly intent today on showing Adams how wrong he was when telling him he would never cut it in the heart of defence.
"I've not seen him since he left but it's quite clear we didn't see eye-to-eye when he was Wycombe manager," said Cardiff's player of the year. "He took the captaincy off me. Don't ask me why, I don't know. He came in and changed things. It was a bit bizarre and disappointing but he was there for a year and things didn't go too well. He left and I got the armband straight back."
Johnson admits that he was crushed by Adams' criticisms when he arrived, especially as the former captain of England was someone he had previously admired. "I was looking forward to him coming in but it doesn't always work out how you think, does it?" he said. "I played left-back and centre forward under him but I'm a centre-half. He never fancied me there. It was just a bit bizarre the way it happened because I was player of the year, the year he came in. I was unhappy. I played three seasons on the trot, in every game and it was difficult to swallow when I was told I wasn't good enough as a centre-half.
"I've read a couple of things he's said about me, saying it was a clash of personalities and he's probably hit the nail on the head. I was probably a bit too chirpy for my own good. But he said he was exactly the same when he was playing."
Johnson, who has reportedly become the subject of transfer interest from Premier League clubs such as Middlesbrough, went on to scoff at Adams's well-publicised aim of becoming England manager. "I think he'll need a few jobs before he does that," he said. When asked whether he believed Adams was a good manager, Johnson replied: "That's not for me to say."
In fairness to Adams, he did admit in an interview last Sunday that he learnt plenty from the Johnson experience. "Roger was very young, and working with him taught me a great deal," said Harry Redknapp's right-hand man. "At that particular stage of his development, and mine, we weren't right for each other. I was there to learn my trade. Next time, I'll do things differently."
Yet despite their falling out, Johnson says he will make a point of shaking hands with his former tormentor-in-chief this afternoon. "I'll go and say hello to him, how you doing," said Johnson. "I like to prove people wrong. He's on a long list of people who said I wouldn't make it." Although Adams is somewhere near the top of that list.Reuse content