Johnson hits out: Stephen Kearney didn’t like me
Shaun Johnson has opened up on his departure from the Warriors, claiming coach Stephen Kearney did not like him.
Johnson is now embedded at the Cronulla Sharks after a fallout with Warriors management resulted in him being granted an immediate release last week, with a year remaining on his contract.
‘‘I probably could have stayed one year, but how engaged and how much contribution I was able to give after hearing what had been said and knowing how the Warriors felt about me, that was the bit that made me go,’’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘I don’t want to waste a year because we don’t have too long in this game’,’’ Johnson said.
The Warriors have had their say on the situation, chief executive Cameron George declaring in a scathing press release the club is ‘‘not going to compromise our culture on and off the field with people who do not wish to represent our club, members and fans in the way we expect’’.
That they would part with the Kiwis No 7 before they had even secured an adequate replacement – although Stuff can reveal they have made inquiries about Gold Coast young gun AJ Brimson – shows how ugly things had become.
‘‘I know deep down that I gave it a crack,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘Regardless of what the CEO says, who has been there a year or two, it dates back a lot longer than me.
‘‘I’ve been there eight years and had six coaches. So the sixth coach didn’t like me. So what? You know what I mean? I rode the tough time, I gave it a crack. I tried to keep fans engaged in their seats, I tried to play a style of footy that was going to get kids excited every week.
‘‘I know that, my family knows that and the people who know me know that, which is why I can say no, it doesn’t really affect me.’’
Kearney wasn’t available comment. for Mark Rudan will look to add more than just another import to bolster his squad in January.
With Fijian striker Roy Krishna gaining New Zealand citizenship on Thursday, the Wellington Phoenix coach can add another overseas player to his squad when the transfer window opens on January 3.
His squad sits at the minimum of 20, so he has three spaces he could fill in January. He said he plans to target Kiwis for those two other spots.
‘‘At the same time that we’re looking for a visa player because we’ve got that spot, I haven’t discounted, and have been watching, the local premiership as well.
‘‘There are some players there that I’ve been making a list of who I’d like to bring in in January, if they want to come in. I’ll be speaking to a few of them.
‘‘So it’s not just about an overseas player. I’ve been quite impressed with some of the local talent. But the A-League is a different beast and a different environment as well, but they’ll be getting a phone call sometime soon.‘‘
In terms of an import, Rudan would not divulge which position of the field they are targeting, but one would imagine the priority would be a goalscorer, given they have scored the fewest goals in the league with four in six matches.
His phone had been running hot since Krishna’s citizenship was announced.
‘‘Since Roy’s news, even more so now, which is great,’’ he said of interest from agents and other clubs.
The process now would be to go back to their database of transfer targets and start working their way through that list.
‘‘We’ve been keeping tabs on those players in terms of how they’re playing week-in, week-out.
‘‘We’ve got a list there already and then through the contacts we made we go out to them and say these are the kind of players we’re looking for.
‘‘The process has started and we’re getting feedback in regards to that. It’s got to be the right player, the right fit for us and someone that’s ready to play, more importantly.’’
The Phoenix still have four more games to navigate before the transfer window opens, starting with an away trip to play Sydney FC today.
They have called in 43-year-old goalkeeper Ante Covic as injury cover for Filip Kurto, who is out with concussion. Covic will back up Oliver Sail, who is 21 years his junior.
Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante knows Covic well, having won an A-League title with him at Newcastle Jets in 2008.
‘‘He’ll come in to help Oli out,’’ Durante said.
‘‘Oli is young, so having an experienced head next to him in the warmups and before the game is going to be invaluable for him.’’
Rudan said Kurto had passed every concussion test this week, but they had taken a safety-first approach and decided to leave him out of the squad this weekend.
Rudan will be without suspended backup defender Ryan Lowry, while Sydney FC have welcomed back Daniel De Silva and Siem de Jong to their squad. What: A-League round seven Where and when: Jubilee Stadium, Sydney, today 7.35pm (NZ time) TAB: Sydney FC $1.35, Wellington $7.80, draw $4.80 Phoenix: Mandi, Dylan Fox, Mitch Nichols, Nathan Burns, David Williams, Liberato Cacace, Alex Rufer, Michal Kopzcynski, Louis Fenton, Sarpreet Singh, Tom Doyle, Oliver Sail, Roy Krishna, Andrew Durante (c), Max Burgess, Steven Taylor, Zac Jones, Ante Covic Sydney: Andrew Redmayne, Aaron Calver, Alex Wilkinson, Jop van der Linden, Josh Brillante, Michael Zullo, Paulo Retre, Adam Le Fondre, Milos Ninkovic, Daniel De Silva, Brandon O’Neill, Alex Brosque (c), Alex Cisak, Charles Lokoli-Ngoy, Siem de Jong, Rhyan Grant, Cam Devlin, Luke Ivanovic