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AJ and the boss on same wavelength

Adam Villa1

Adam Villa1

Adam Johnson has revealed the "extra duties" that have helped steer the Blues to joint top of the Premier League table going into the New Year.

AJ was at his unplayable best at times in the brilliant 4-0 victory over Aston Villa ... and he also fulfilled his unsung role in keeping his team-mates "on messsage" to manager Roberto Mancini's satisfaction.

City's boss often beckons Johnson to the touchline for a few seconds of animated conversation - but he's taking instruction for another player as often as he is listening to Mancini's shrewd guidance on his game.

He said: "It's just little things. The boss gives me little pointers - I think it's because I'm the nearest to him! It's for me to tell the others things as well - not to get themselves booked, stuff like that. I'm just the messenger!"

Johnson doesn't need to be told about the value of switching wings: "I've done that all my career and that won't change. It opened up later on to give me more freedom, and I like attacking full-backs, so I enjoyed myself."

AJ and his team-mates were absolutely delighted for Mario Balotelli - even if the talented young Italian barely acknowledged his first Premier League hat-trick since arriving in the summer from Inter Milan.

Johnson said: "As a group and a team, we are all together. Mario's lack of celebration is just him, the way he is. I don't think you can read anything into it. That's just the type of person and player he is.

"He doesn't attach much emotion to it. But as long as he scores goals, that's OK with everyone! Mario had a good day. He took his two penalties well, tapped them in nicely, and he's shown again that he's a goalscorer."

Nobody is counting chickens despite the team's current lofty perch. He added: "We looked in top form against Villa. As long as we can stay up there or thereabouts and keep winning games, let's see what happens."

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