DAVE Jones is aiming to succeed where many of his peers have failed – by coaxing the best out of Jermaine Johnson on a consistent basis.
Brian Laws, Alan Irvine and Gary Megson have all worked with the winger and tried to harness the Jamaican’s explosive pace and dribbling skills.
There were numerous occasions where the managers above thought the penny had finally dropped with the 32-year-old. But Johnson, nicknamed ‘JJ’, remains an enigma.
When on song, JJ can be unplayable. His speed, trickery and speed worries defenders.
One match which stood out for me when I saw Wednesday last season was the home clash with Yeovil Town.
The Glovers led 1-0 at half-time and had it not been for the individual brilliance of JJ, Wednesday would have dropped points and lost ground in the promotion race. JJ scored the winner and carried the team that day.
Indeed, JJ had a purple patch in January and February when he bagged four superb goals in the space of seven appearances.
Too often, though, JJ, capped more than 50 times by his country, flatters to deceive.
Too often he is ineffective, gives the ball away cheaply, runs into blind allies and poses little threat to the opposition.
Jones’ top priority is to get him fit. JJ’s poor injury record over the years leaves a lot to be desired and has hindered his progress at Hillsborough.
He seems to pick up a niggle every time he gets close to hitting top form.
Of course, at 32, JJ will pick up a few bumps and niggles. But he needs to train like an absolute demon during pre-season and not miss sessions if he is to force his way into Jones’ starting 11 for the club’s opening Championship fixture at Derby County.
JJ has to make sure he manages his body correctly and let the backroom staff know when he has tweaked something immediately or pushed himself too much.
Discipline is another issue with JJ. Given a chance to impress at Stevenage last September, he lost his cool and was sent off after kicking a Stevenage player off the ball. It is that sort of petulance Wednesday don’t want.
Jones is looking to increase competition for places on the flanks. The Owls chief wants to sign a minimum of one new wide player, possibly two. Michail Antonio tops Jones’ summer wish-list.
JJ is convinced he has the ability to start regularly under Jones. “I think it is better for me if there is competition because it will bring the best out of me,” he said. “I want to do my best for Sheffield Wednesday.”
There is a distinct possibility JJ may be used by Jones as an impact substitute. JJ hopes this is not the case.
He said: “I don’t like coming on from the bench because it can be difficult getting into the game straight away.”
Jones has thrown JJ a lifeline by offering him a new one-year contract, a deal the winger duly signed earlier this week. Now it is up to JJ to repay Jones’ faith.