Michael Johnston: Profile, Expert Analysis, Tactical Overview & Video

DOETINCHEM, NETHERLANDS - SEPTEMBER 11: Michael Johnston of Scotland in action during the UEFA European Under-21 Championship group 4 qualifying match between Netherlands and Scotland at Stadion De Vijverberg on September 11, 2018 in Doetinchem, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Michael Johnston: Profile

Name: Michael Johnston

Date of birth: Apr 19, 1999

Nationality: Scotland

Position: Winger

Height: 1.76m

Michael Johnston: Introduction

Michael Johnston is the latest shining light coming through the Scotland ranks. Admittedly, injuries have hampered his early development, however, his time on the pitch has showcased clear quality.

A winger with the versatility and confidence to play as a number 10, his speed and skill enable Johnston to open up areas of space and then finish chances with a powerful strike. His reading of the game and quick decision making, meanwhile, give rise to a decisive player available for teammates to find in behind to create and finish opportunities.

Michael Johnston: Background

A Celtic fan born and bred, Michael Johnston looks set to prove the next exciting talent coming out of Parkhead. Born in Glasgow, Johnston joined the Celtic youth academy in 2008. Developing through the ranks, his position was fluid, with the youngster handed opportunities on the wing and in behind the striker.

Speaking about his time in the Hoops’ academy, during which he was often used as a ball boy, Johnston admitted that he used to spot himself on television. “My biggest night as a ballboy was the win over Barcelona when Tony Watt scored. I was in first year at secondary school. Kieran Tierney was doing it that night as well,” said Johnston.

“It was usually the older boys who were picked, so I was always left out, but I was buzzing when I got that game.”

Johnston made his first-team debut in 2017, and immediately signed a new contract lasting until 2020, which would then be extended for a further 5 years in 2019. During this time, the attacker suffered a string of injuries, both muscular and ligament, so was thankful for the club’s commitment to his talents:

“I’ve had the downside of the injury, so that halted my progress a wee bit this year, but I’m just trying to get back fit and get as many games as possible to get my stats up,” he explained, after penning the extension to his contract.

“There are always going to be ups and downs in football, and there are things you can learn from, and if you can overcome it mentally, then that will hold you in good stead.

Expert insight on Michael Johnston

101 spoke to Read Celtic writer and Scottish football expert Brian McVeigh:

“Mikey Johnston is a winger who can also play in behind the striker in the advanced ‘number 10’ role. He graduated from the youth academy at Scottish champions, Glasgow Celtic.

Johnston is a very entertaining winger, with a high level of skill and trickery which he uses to beat his opponents.  His game depends on his quick feet, and his intelligence to link between the wing and the centre forward position. He uses his exceptional movement and awareness to draw defenders in and then drifts off them from his wide position into a central area, where he can either shoot or provide assists.

When playing in his most favoured position, left wing, he can use his pace to beat his opponent over 5-10 yards which then allows him to either drift inside or go down the wing. For someone who is quite small, he is difficult to knock off the ball as his touch and spatial awareness gives him the time to move away from his man.

Johnston has been compared in the past to English midfield hero, and former Glasgow Rangers star, Paul Gascoigne. His ability to move as fast with the ball as he can without the ball, is a quality Gascoigne had in the early stages of his career.

A player with such qualities will continue to make a name for himself both domestically and internationally.”

Tactical Overview of Michael Johnston

Johnston’s skill and quick thinking enable him to find situations in which he can out-think opposing defenders and find space. His close control and powerful strike with relatively little back-lift also make it difficult to predict when the Scot is going to pull the trigger.

He is often seen taking the ball close to goal and drawing in defenders, before using a piece of technical close control to create pockets of space to get a shot off.

Johnson starting on the lift gets given the ball in space around the outside of the box.

Johnson starting on the left gets given the ball in space around the outside of the box.

Playing a one-two, Johnson is able to drive to the right of the Rennes goal and get into a clear position after some excellent interplay.

Playing a one-two, Johnson is able to drive to the right of the Rennes goal and get into a clear position after some excellent interplay.

When in the position, Johnson unleashes a fierce low drive past the Rennes keeper to complete a fantastic move.

When in the position, Johnson unleashes a fierce low drive past the Rennes keeper to complete a fantastic move.

Typically found on the left, Johnston, whilst left-footed, has no problem using his right foot, as shown in the example above. In turn, he can cut inside when playing on the left flank to take players on, before unleashing a right-footed effort.

The speed of Johnston is often used as an outlet. His side try to find balls over the top for the Scot to accelerate onto.

The speed of Johnston is often used as an outlet. His side try to find balls over the top for the Scot to accelerate onto.

Johnston's speed gets him in behind the opposition and able to jockey the ball and using his close control to make pockets of space for himself.

Johnston’s speed gets him in behind the opposition and able to jockey the ball and using his close control to make pockets of space for himself.

Finding the space Johnston craves, he unleashes a powerful right-footed strike past the keeper.

Finding the space Johnston craves, he unleashes a powerful right-footed strike past the keeper.

Being a left-footed left winger, crossing is naturally a big part of Johnston’s game. Spotting teammates in the box and deciding on his crossing technique are areas of Johnston’s game which are improving all the time, and with more game time, such traits will only improve further.

Found with a lofted long ball, so often used by Johnston's team to utilise his pace, the Scot drives towards the touchline to find a dangerous cross.

Found with a lofted long ball, so often used by Johnston’s team to utilise his pace, the Scot drives towards the touchline to find a dangerous cross.

Upon reaching the touchline, Johnston fires a ball across and away from the keeper to prevent the stopped catching the ball and making the goalie commit or hold and in either case be at a disadvantage.

Upon reaching the touchline, Johnston fires a ball across and away from the keeper to prevent the stopped catching the ball and making the goalie commit or hold and in either case be at a disadvantage.

Found with a quick throw in behind, Johnston speeds onto the pass and spots the space in the box.

Found with a quick throw in behind, Johnston speeds onto the pass and spots the space in the box.

The low drive from Johnston finds his teammate and displays the different types of cross the Scot is capable of executing. His decision making in different areas of the pitch is quick and maturing all the time.

The low drive from Johnston finds his teammate and displays the different types of cross the Scot is capable of executing. His decision making in different areas of the pitch is quick and maturing all the time.

An ambidextrous winger possessing a powerful strike in combination with pace and technical ability, Michael Johnston has the potential to become a key figure for both his club and nation moving forward.

Michael Johnston: Official video

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This article was edited by Conor Laird.