Both USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann and Borussia Monchengladbach boss Lucien Favre have caught some grief for playing Fabian Johnson at left wing, but at least one of the two is reaping the rewards of the switch.
Johnson made his bones as a right back with Hoffenheim before transferring to Gladbach this summer, but both club and country have put the 27-year-old on the other side of the pitch in an advanced role.
His club now boasts a 10W-4D-0L record in all competitions when he starts after topping Borussia Dortmund 3-1 on Saturday. Gladbach is in the Bundesliga’s third place, and closing in on a UEFA Champions League berth.
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Earlier this week, the Bundesliga site featured an interview with the USMNT player. Johnson was asked about his position on the pitch, as well as his relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann (amongst other things).
Johnson has been very good on the wing, and impressed for the States in its recent loss to Denmark and draw against Switzerland. And he’s grown to enjoy his new position. Success will do that.
From Bundesliga.com on positioning:
bundesliga.com: It was said back then that you’d prefer to play at right-back, which Favre wasn’t aware of. You’re still being deployed on the left wing though. What do you make of it?
Johnson: I’m feeling good playing on the wing. I’ve had a lot of games in this position and got used to it. The more you play in the position the more familiar you become with it. It’s become a much easier job for me.
bundesliga.com: What is your favourite position on the pitch though?
Johnson: I’m actually feeling really good playing on the wing by now.
Johnson again featured in Gladbach’s win on Saturday, going 77 minutes and departing after the match’s final goal. Oscar Wendt, Raffael and Havard Nordtveit scored for the victors, while Ilkay Gundogan netted in the 77th for BVB.
bundesliga.com: You were an Under-21 European Champion with Germany. What made you choose the USA?
Johnson: I relished the challenge. Jürgen Klinsmann phoned me to invite me for a training camp back then. The team, the coaching stuff – I liked them all very much. We’ve played in some great games since, I was at the World Cup. I wouldn’t have liked to have missed out on those things.
bundesliga.com: Does the international side have the potential to go any further?
Johnson: Most definitely. We’ve performed well against some of the top sides in the world. Those experiences, especially competing with the best players, help you improve.
bundesliga.com: Are you getting feedback from Jürgen Klinsmann on a regular basis?
Johnson: Yeah, sure. We talk a lot when we’re together with the national team, also he calls me when we don’t get to meet for a longer period. Just like [technical advisor] Berti Vogts, he backed me when I decided to join Gladbach. He too was disappointed when I got little playing time in the first half of the season. But we knew it wouldn’t be an easy move. If things continue the way they are then we’re both happy.