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Is Roger Johnson, Berra?

So after two years of chasing for Mick, he finally gets his man!

Roger Johnson today became the newest addition to the ranks as he signed a four year contract for a reported £7M transfer fee. As ever, Wolves have gone about their business quietly, and for the third season in a row have pulled off a ‘marquee’ signing following on from Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher.

Its hard to believe that some Internet forums were full of doom and gloom merchants after we missed out on Matt Mills who subsequently ended up at Leicester City but my argument is why? £5M for an unproven centre half in the Premier League or £7M for a tried and tested, got the t-shirt kind of player in Johnson? Its Johnson every time for me.

Given the amount we have signed for him one can only assume that he will go straight into the starting line up. If that is the case what of Christophe Berra and Jody Craddock. Two admirals that have been one of the main reasons to why we have stayed up for two years. OK, maybe not so much Berra last season, but Jody definitely. Fans favourite, Craddock, may start with Johnson at the back for the first game at Blackburn, and who could argue with that given Craddock’s exemplary performances over the last few years. However, is Berra as bad some people make out? People say he isn’t very fast, accusations Christophe has laughed off, saying he very rarely gets beaten in a foot race. On top of this, Rangers have reportedly asked about the Scottish stopper.

Personally, I think he will go with Johnson and Berra with Jody pushing for a first team slot if things don’t start well. This purely based on the amount of money that we have spent on Johnson and the fact that the evergreen Craddock is not going to last 38 games over the course of the season and his experience could prove invaluable again towards the end of the season like last year.

With this in mind, how do Johnson and Berra compare. After all, they have both played similar amounts of games as each other in the EPL over the last couple of years in similar ranking teams.

Comparing the stats from last season where Johnson played 38 games and Berra just the 31 and a substitute appearance, their tackle ratios are about the same with Johnson coming out at 32 out of 50 and Berra 34 out of 51. Given those figures, Johnson’s tackle success was 64% and Berra’s 66%.

Tackling Ratio’s EPL 2010/11

Johnson – 64%

Berra – 66%

As we all know, its not all about tackling the opposition. Sometimes teams take the physical route and pump the ball into the box. Often a weakness for Wolves teams of the past. Remember Sunderland away when we lost 5-2 and the Berra Mancienne partnership at the back thought it would be worth a punt to let the ball bounce, leading to another goal conceded? Or how about last season at St. Andrews when Mancienne decided to play head tennis with himself and let Seb Larsson equalize? With Johnson next to Berra I can already see an improvement.

The heading stats on the whole favour Johnson where he was making 2.15 interceptions in the air on average a game, compared to just 1.67 for Berra. Its worth noting, Johnson competed 234 times in the air with a success rating of 61% compared to Berra’s 152 battles in the air and a slight advantage at 62%. But then again, Johnson averaged  3.5 effective headed clearances a game compared to the 2.9 of Berra.

So there we have it, Johnson V Berra. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely see a great partnership growing here. Johnson has the ability to ‘rough up’ the centre forward, the kind of player we have been missing for a number of years, and we have Berra who has the pace and vision to be one step ahead of the game.

Bearing in mind as well, that Johnson is hitting his peak in terms of age, at 28, where as Berra is still only 26, they have both have many years ahead to become international regulars perhaps, but more importantly make sure Wolves are as good as they can be in the top flight.

Follow me on twitter @5outhbank for some lively debate, all things Gold n Black!
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