George Way 98

Jon Flanagan - The Scouse Cafu

Created on 15 Apr., 2014 9:23 PM GMT

Jon Flanagan Jon Flanagan. Pablo Flaldini. The scouse Cafu. Call him what you will, one of the more recent products of the Melwood football factory has grown into one of the first names on Brendan Rodgers team sheet. The story of the 21 year old’s rise to the first team is spread over multiple years, but now, thanks to hard work and the assistance of Brendan Rodgers the Englishman seems like he is here to stay.

 It was back in 2011 that Flanagan made his debut for the Reds, in a game against Manchester City; Liverpool emerged 3-0 victors on the day, and Flanagan received praise from then manager and Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish. Kenny said that Flanagan was ‘a reflection of the work being done at the academy’. So from that debut, the signs were good, and injuries allowed Flanagan’s run in the team to stretch for a few more games, along with more appearances as the season progressed. At the end of what was a fairly poor season for Liverpool, Flanagan won the award for best young player, a title well earned over the course of the year.

However, in the season that followed it seemed the full back’s luck was out: as a result of Glen Johnson’s recovery, the right back spot was filled by an experienced international player, who many considered the better option. Nevertheless, in the 2011-12 season Flanagan featured in the earlier stages of Liverpool’s F.A Cup run that saw the Reds reach the final. Last year, not even the FA Cup could provide the youngster with consistent fixtures, but his one appearance came on the European Stage, albeit in the Europa League. The game in question was a trip to Moscow to face Russian outfit Anzhi Makhachkala, and Liverpool won by the narrow margin of 3-2.

 In spite of this baron spell last year, the young defender has flourished under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers, and has in recent months proved his credentials as a Premier League defender. Again, he stumbled into the starting line-up thanks to the misfortune of others, and again his opportunity came against first class opposition. Whilst Liverpool lost 2-0 at the Emirates, one of the few positives Liverpool fans took from the game was the performance of the young player, who showed composure and quality many did not believe he possessed. Furthermore, if ever a Liverpool player can sway the general perception, it is in the Merseyside Derby – Flanagan did just that, as his class performance against Everton won around yet more people who had previously doubted him.

Since then, Flanagan has been a regular in the first XI; that is not the extent of his success this season though – he has played on the left side of defence, a position which does not come naturally to the right back. Regardless, playing so well ‘out of position’ is just another arrow in Flanagan’s quiver. Now is the perfect time for him to be showing his full potential as well; Roy Hodgson and his team have no doubt been observing Flanagan over the previous year, and his versatility, courage, and composure could see him earn a seat on the plane to Brazil this summer. Understandably, many would question this, saying his inexperience may cancel out any positives; however, I think that Flanagan’s tough tackling is one of the features that could help slow the fast flowing football of some the opposition England will face. Whilst some may consider his hard hitting challenges a liability, I think it is something that the alternative options lack – you need not look any further than Liverpool’s game with Manchester United for proof of this. Flanagan had (particularly in this game) the ability and fearlessness to challenge players far greater in stature than himself and come off on top. To conclude, I would say that Jon Flanagan is, and will continue to be, a big player in Liverpool’s squad and, if given his chance, the England set up.
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