Andrew Johson - not for sale

Last updated : 30 May 2005 By Nik Taylor

The oh-so-predictable tabloid frenzy around the future of Andrew Johnson is now in full swing.

If the daily rags are to be believed, AJ is ‘pleading’ Simon Jordan to let him go, and is ‘desperate’ to sign for a Premiership club as soon as possible.

Fortunately for those of us of a red-and-blue persuasion, all these media reports are currently about as reliable as the British Bank Holiday weather.

In fact, the best the papers can come up with is a laughably flimsy story based entirely around that old chestnut of interviewing a ‘close friend’.

The News of the World reported one of AJ’s ‘pals’ as saying: "Andy is on the brink of making Sven-Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad and knows he must stay in the Premiership to make it to Germany."

That’s a handy quote to base a news story around, and no mistake. But the fact the News of the World can’t even put a name to this mysterious mate means you should take this particular item of hot-off-the-press ‘news’ with a fairly hefty pinch of salt.

Not that that’s prevented every newspaper and football site in the country from seizing upon these flaky quotes as indisputable fact. The musings of some random punter about AJ’s future have been good enough to convince hacks far and wide that our striker will now be signing for Spurs within a matter of days. Or perhaps he's going to Newcastle. Or maybe it's Liverpool…

It’s all just kite-flying of course – papers chucking random names in the air so that if something happens they can all say ‘told you so’. But when you look through all the column inches that have been written about last season’s top English Premiership goalscorer, cold, hard facts are few and far between.

Only one club has admitted an interest in signing AJ – and that was his old side Birmingham. Their chairman, Karen Brady, said: "I made a phone call to Simon Jordan and enquired what they were doing with Andrew and he said categorically that he was not for sale."

So that’s that. Any other chairmen making a similar call will surely get the same response. Simon Jordan is grimly determined not to sell, and with AJ under contract until 2009 our chairman is under zero pressure to cash in.

The only thing that would make that situation change is if AJ started making waves and made it impossible for the club to keep him – just as Wayne Routledge has done. But that somehow just doesn’t seem Johnson’s style.

Only weeks before the end of the season, AJ gave an impassioned interview about his future in SE25.

"If we down I'm not going to walk out on all the boys I've been friends with all these years," he said.

"I knew when I signed my five-year deal at the start of the season that if I scored 20 goals and became noticed I was still staying for five years. It's not a matter of 'if we go down I'm going to leave the club'. That's not how I think.

"I'm always ambitious and always want to play for England. Of course being in the Championship might not give me as good a chance but I have dedicated myself to the club."

Having come out with all that, it would take a U-turn of Steve Bruce proportions for AJ to then start complaining about having to play in the Championship with Palace next season.

Us cynical football fans might find it hard to believe, but perhaps we’ve found in AJ a player in possession of that rarest quality – loyalty.

Let’s not be naïve here – Andrew Johnson could well leave Palace during the close season. He’ll certainly have plenty of offers. But right at this moment, there’s just as much chance he will stay at Selhurst Park and help us fight for a place back in the Premiership. And that would be a story worth writing about.