After the humiliation suffered by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 5-0 decimation by Fulham on Sunday, you could be forgiven for thinking that members of the sides defence would be keeping a low profile.
As Pavel Pogrebnyak helped himself to a hat-trick, Clint Dempsey a double, and their Fulham team-mates adopted a shoot-on-sight policy at Wolves unprotected ‘keeper Wayne Hennessey, the Old Gold defence capitulated.
Meanwhile, on the Wolves substitutes bench, for the second match running under caretaker boss Terry Connor, sat Roger Johnson.
Less than 24 hours later, after his sides Craven Cottage catastrophe, Johnson, 28, arrived at Wolves Compton training ground, reportedly ‘bleary-eyed’, and was sent to train with the development squad as Connor became aware that he was under the influence of alcohol.
Both manager and player have subsequently released statements as acts of appeasement to supporters, with the defender facing internal disciplinary action and a £50,000 fine, as Wolves continue their descent into being the Premier League’s laughing-stock.
Recent on-field hammerings by Fulham and local-rivals West Bromwich Albion, the sacking of manager Mick McCarthy, and the board’s subsequent failings in finding a suitable replacement, have seen Wanderers become the top-flight’s club-in-crisis.
This latest episode, involving a player who certainly hasn’t ingratiated himself to the clubs fans, will not help.
A £4.5m summer-signing – which the Wolves board pointed out towards the end of the summer transfer window, as they attempted to show just how clever they could be in the transfer market (it was previously speculated that the former Cardiff and Wycombe centre-back had cost £7m) – Johnson was quickly named club captain by then-manager Mick McCarthy, and painted as the man to shore up a defence that had been porous in its previous two Premier League campaigns.
However, far from being the solution, Johnson has simply added to the problems.
Although the Wanderers backline looked resolute in their opening unbeaten three matches, which dared supporters to think of a potentially comfortable season ahead, a run of defeats left fans unimpressed and venting their frustrations, leading to Johnson to call a section “disgusting”, for sarcastically cheering a decision to subsitute Karl Henry in the October home defeat by Newcastle United.
Continuing defensive problems within the side and poor individual performances from Johnson, lead to the Wolves skipper being dropped for a match with Sunderland in December, however an injury to replacement Jody Craddock saw Johnson’s spell out of the side run for a mere 60 minutes.
Since then he’s been a part of a Wolves side that produced some excellent backs-to-the-wall displays, most notably in the 1-1 draws away against both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, but more indifferent form has followed, coming to a head in the 5-1 derby drubbing by West Brom, when Johnson poor-form came to a head with an insipid display.
Subesequently, Connor chose the step of dropping Johnson for his first two matches in charge, however, following the lack of leadership on show during the Fulham debacle, may have been ready to return Johnson to the Wolves starting XI.
Nevertheless, with this latest incident, at a time when Wolves look to mount a successful battle against the drop for a third successive season, one of their own has put his future in serious jeopardy and created a further chasm between an underachieving squad and embittered supporters.