Where art thou Flanagan?

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Poor Jon Flanagan. The young Scouse lad came through the competitive ranks at the Liverpool academy, broke into the first team when the opportunity arose and made his mark. But since his injury, the team has evolved and the traditional back four has, for now, been all but abandoned by Brendan Rodgers.

The full-back made 25 appearances in the 2013-14 season but is still yet to perform for the Reds in this year’s campaign since picking up a knee injury. He underwent surgery before Christmas and has since returned to training. When he broke into the team, he performed well and became an established member of the first team squad. But since his injury, is there a place for him in the current Liverpool team? He can play at left-back and right-back in a back four, but can he play as part of a back three?


The suggestion Rodgers stumbled across the current system and whether it’s a system suited to personell alone, are other arguments but ones that should be considered. Lovren’s weakness at centre-back was an on-going worry and Rodgers stubbornness to remove him was endless until he was forced into it when the defender got injured. Injuries to Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique and Toure’s absence with Ivory Coast meant Rodgers had two options; a back four consisting of Manquillo, Skrtel, Sakho and Moreno OR a back three involving Emre Can, Skrtel and Sakho. He stumbled across the better option and Liverpool’s form began to grow in a new system.

With youth and pace in full-back positions already available in the current team, Flanagan’s inclusion may be under serious threat. The popular defender lacks pace and direction in comparison to the new additions. Jordan Ibe, Alberto Moreno and Lazar Markovic have come into the side and provide a future of youth, pace and direction going forward. Although Flannagan is still young himself, histraditional style of defending falls flat in a back three system, where attacking ability is almost equal to the defensive duties.

Flanagan’s inclusion may entirely rely on Liverpool returning to a back four formation. That would be ill-advised, especially with the personnel currently available to Rodgers. Coutinho, Sterling and Sturridge need freedom going forward, something they struggle to have without Moreno, Ibe or Markovic running the flanks and Joe Allen’s excellent form in a defensive midfield position adds protection to the back three. Sakho’s ability on the ball is weak but the damage has been minimized in this system and Can’s passing ability hasn’t been suppressed. It would only be in the interest of young FlannagaN for the team to revert to a back four formation.

Flanagan can only hope to make irregular appearances for the team in the odd occasions when a back four is needed. Otherwise, the youngster may hope to enjoy a successful loan spell until his defensive duties are needed. But if Liverpool’s young squad continue to develop as a unit, he may be forced to jump ship and abandon his adored club.

It’s unfair that an English product of Liverpool’s academy can do well and yet there may be no future for him at the club. His inclusion goes hand-in-hand with a system change – a change that would be negative to the team as a whole. Therefore, it appears Flanagan’s future at Liverpool seems doubtful. The fact he is a product of the academy and is a young English player may help his development but without that, his situation would be very different. We can only hope that his ability is recognised by other Premier League teams and Flanagan is given the opportunity to grow in a full-back position elsewhere.

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  1. I have no idea where you get the idea that Flano can only play in a back four, until his injury he was constantly raiding forward as well as any winger you care to mention, he’s scared of nobody and can score as well as Borini or Mario.

    Stick to your studies Miss Sanders, or at least do some research.

    • Thanks for commenting Bill. I have done research and I resent you suggesting I haven’t… But if you genuinely believe Flanagan has as much pace as Jordon Ibe and Alberto Moreno then I think this argument is lost on you… I’m a big fan of the lad and I hope he can come back into the team but the facts are – he’s not as quick as them.

    • Thanks for reading John – I never said Sakho wasn’t strong offensively. I’m actually a very big fan. But he’s still young and has lots of improving to do and I’m sure most fans will agree his weakness is being on the ball compared to his ability to recover mistakes in defence. Flanno has some pace but not anything that compares to Moreno, Ibe or Markovic. It’s a shame because he’s talented and is home grown. But pace-wise, doesn’t compare.

  2. Bad Bad Article…He will play in this formation…He is as good as Moreno going forward and defending as well…he can also play RCB..Better than Can defensively and Being a full back Knows a thing or two about bringing ball out of defence…Wait and Watch…Giod too see LAD back to full Fitness…Peoper young home grown talent…shouldn’t be sold or wasted!

  3. Does Flanagan have a future at LFC? NO … played 25 games last season (in a 38 game season) & was the most dribbled past player in the PL … and what is your job … to defend!!

    Is he better then Manquillo? NO … Manquilo stats show he makes more successful tackles and interceptions per game then any other LFC player this season. Does Manquillo have a weakness? YES … he lacks confidence in his attacking game even though he takes up great positions in the opposing half … he will always knock the ball back rather then taking on his opposing number … meaning we lose attacking momentum. He is first and foremost defensive minded … and his style only works in a flat 4 … unless he learns quickly to be offensive minded.

    The fact is Flanagan is not good enough for this team which has evolved at frightening speed … especially if you consider the start we had to our season.

    So in that respect … like Jonjo … I wish him all the best wherever he lands up.

    Om a separate note … “Sakho’s ability on the ball is weak” … are you serious ??? His stats last season (in a flat 4) as well as this season (3 CBs) prove otherwise – 90% plus, with the most forward passes of any Centre Backs!! What game are you watching ???

  4. The article talks about, Sakho ability on the ball, being questionable. This is unfounded he just looks akward with the ball but compared to most CBs in Prem. I stress and emphasize, Sakho is really good on the ball! As for Flano he will adjust this season or he will get his chance nxt year. Team is in good form now he needs to fully recover and work on his passing and defending and maybe he can play the RCB if we stick with this formation. CAN will probably move to CM with Henderson

  5. “Sakho’s ability on the ball is
    weak but the damage has been minimized in
    this system”

    are you sure you’ve been watching the matches? because from what I’ve seen, he’s probably one of the best CBs on the ball and his passing is quite remarkable actually.

  6. I believe Flanagan could perform well as part of the back three. He certainly has the aggression and willingness to tackle, and considering how well he adapted to left-back last season, I’m sure he could play as one of the three centre backs

  7. Could easily see Flanno slotting in at RCB to push Can into midfield. Though Can’s form at RCB says otherwise, he could defiantly be used to add a physical and composed presence to the midfield alongside Hendo. Back to Flanno, who has the size (~5’11) and pace to play as a centre back- being protected airelly by Skrtel and for pace by his RWB. Not saying he’s tailor made for it, but he should be given a run out to see how he fares. Happened last year, and he performed very admirably on his weaker side. Idealistically, he cpuld become a stalwart in the squad for years to come

    • Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment Ryan. You make some good points and I agree, Flanagan should definitely be given a chance to prove himself in that position. My only worry is he doesn’t have to attributes to be 100% and if anyone else is available, Rodgers may be quick to replace him.

  8. I’d like to address a few of the replies I’ve seen on here so far, since everyone has gone a bit both ways on the topic of Flanagan.

    1. Does his ability compare to any of his competition *at his position*? Not at the moment. RedRod makes several good points about these comparisons, so I advise anyone reading this to look there as well. While I agree with most everything there, I would like to contradict one area: Manquillo’s weakness. I actually don’t attribute it to a lack of confidence; rather, Manquillo just doesn’t know any better. Moreno has always been an attacking full back, whereas Manquillo’s former club simply had him defending when he was on the pitch. Like any right back, he roamed forward on occasion, but when he did it ended in a pass or cross. That’s exactly what we’re seeing now. More naivety than anything.

    2. To the guy that said Flanagan could be a winger: No. No he cannot.

    3. Comments on Sakho: Passing stats, tackling stats, and the like have affect on whether a player is comfortable on the ball, true. But it doesn’t tell the entire story. At several points over the course of Sakho’s reinstatement to the side, he has lost the ball trying to be too playful or simply due to an error. Thankfully, none of these have turned into the Lovren catastrophes like we saw at the beginning of the season. To ask Ms. Sanders to “stick to her studies” or “do her research” is both asinine and rude. I would ask for a revision of these sorts of comments, but I don’t believe them possible on this site. I assure you that Ms. Sanders put full effort into this article and, as a fellow AI writer, expressed her *opinions* about a set of players in perfect order.

    Finally, a comment on the actual article: I agree with the idea that Flanagan has little place in the starting XI. Since Moreno seems to have settled, I think I would rather see Jose Enrique go before Jon and have Flanagan act as the reserve full back, but his injuries are also tempting to get rid of. Should he get into a good run of health, I’d like to see a race between the two young defenders! I have a funny feeling Moreno wins, but for the doubters it’d be nice to see 😉

    Cheers to those with constructive comments, and bollocks to those otherwise!


    • Thanks Dylan. You seem to understand my arguments. 1) Flanagan isn’t as fast as Ibe or Moreno. (And I’m super excited for the race

    • Well said DB with regards to Emma … stay focused and keep going … we can only improve by practising, then practising and practising some more.

      With re to Manquillo and his lack of confidence compared to not knowing any better … I beg to disagree on this point. I have watched him in a few games prior to joining us on loan … and though he is first and foremost defensive minded … he actually is excellent at taking on players and going past them … this is something I have yet to see him do playing for us … I know he suffered a very serious neck injury against Real Madrid (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzGtBk4lNgE) … and from what I can see he appears to be nervous at the idea of taking on a player … I personally think his confidence after that sickening injury has taken a knock … and there is more to come … if he can just let go and believed in himself … where’s Dr Peters when you need him … wonder if his Spanish is up to crack 😀

    • ps fair point DB with regards to Sakho … stats do not paint the whole picture and I guess Ms Emma was alluding to this point 🙂

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