The Jon Flanagan debate - Is he Good Enough for Liverpool?

The Jon Flanagan debate - Is he Good Enough for Liverpool?

Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge’s return to training has overshadowed the fact Jon Flanagan is also nearing a return after a long time out. You can’t blame people for overlooking Flanagan though, one is the Liverpool captain, the other is the club’s best striker whereas Flanagan is just a back-up player.

The local lad has a bit of a cult following at Liverpool.  Local lad come good and he’s living out the dreams of so many supporters. Known for his crunching tackles and no nonsense style it was easy to see why he was pegged as the next Jamie Carragher, he made his name playing as part of the side that finished runners up in 2013/14.

I think we’d all agree his personal highlight in a Liverpool jersey is his goal against Spurs at White Hart Lane which spawned  the popular “Oh fuck off even Flanagan has scored” tweet.

The Jon Flanagan Debate

Many fans on Twitter have greeted the news of his return in positive fashion. His return brings needed relief in the full-back area because as things stand we currently have Nathanial Clyne and Alberto Moreno practically playing every single game and it’s only a matter of time before one, or both, pick up an injury. Flanagan’s versatility means he can fill in on both sides of the defence. He’s what you’d call a steady player, you know what you’re getting from him and there’s no changing that.

His stats over his Liverpool career are fairly solid. For starters he averages an 83% pass success rate. I know how much Liverpool fans love the tackles stat so I looked at that and was surprised to see him make 3.4 tackles per 90, 1.3 fouls per 90 and 1.7 interceptions per 90. (Stats from whoscored.com) To add some context Alberto Moreno averages 88% pass success rate, 1.3 tackles, 1 foul and 2.3 interceptions. Nathanial Clyne averages 76% pass success rate, 3.5 tackles per 90, gives away 0.6 fouls per 90 and makes 1,7 interceptions per 90. Statistically Flanagan holds his own when compared to our current full-backs.

I’m a local lad and I’m happy to see Liverpudlians involved with the first team squad but there has to be a time when sentiment goes out of the window and you look at the situation properly. This isn’t me having a pop at Jon Flanagan’s ability, this is me wondering whether his strengths align with the strengths Klopp demands from his full-backs and herein lies the problem.

Liverpool’s full-backs now have one thing in common; pace. The full-backs Klopp used at Dortmund all had an abundance of it to. From Lukas Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer and Dede to Kevin Grosskreutz, one thing that all of them had was blistering pace.

In Klopp’s systems it’s always the full-backs offering the width and they’re expected to overlap the wide player. Due to the nature of his tactics, the gegenpress/high pressing game, his full-backs are expected to go from defence to attack in a matter of seconds numerous times within a match. Does Flanagan have it in him to do that? Will he be able to bomb down the flank to support the attack? He’s always struck me as a defensive minded full-back. A full-back Brendan Rodgers would have liked and maybe that’s why he used to mention him in interviews as being a big miss?

I know many will say he has the quality to play for Liverpool having helped the club finish second but how  much of that was down to him? Was he not part of a Liverpool defence that conceded 50 goals? I’m not blaming him for those goals conceded obviously, that was a team failing, likewise people can’t credit him for that 2nd place finish either so there’s only so much weight that argument holds.

Not to mention the fact he’s just coming back from a serious knee injury and Klopp’s tactics put a lot of strain on the body. We as a team can’t afford to be carrying a player that can’t meet the requirements and that’s a real possibility. If you’re executing a press and one player is a few seconds late then the opposition can break the press and you’re in a predicament you don’t want to be in. These are the things you have to consider when asking yourself whether Flanagan has a future at the club, even as a squad player. Again I’d like to reiterate I’m not slating him ability wise just implying his ability would be better served at a different club perhaps?

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*Insert picture of Gerrard kissing the camera at Old Trafford here*

Comments

13 responses to “The Jon Flanagan debate – Is he Good Enough for Liverpool?”

  1. Erik Sinn says:

    Player’s abilities and mentality can change during the traiňing process as a result of different coaching … we’ve seen plenty of this recently. It’s all about his commitment and work ethics. let’s see. 🙂

  2. Ted says:

    1. “Again I’d like to reiterate I’m not slating him ability wise just implying his ability would be better served at a different club perhaps?”

    You are slating him, Sam. Repeatedly, and very insultingly. Based on almost nothing, if we’re being honest here. Your arguments are also extremely flawed flawed.

    Of the four Dortmund fullbacks you compared his pace to, Dede was never what anyone would consider a fast fullback, even more so towards the end of his time. Same for Schmelzer, whose strength was never in his pace. Interestingly, neither Klopp nor Tuchel preferred the faster Piszczek over Schmelzer? The fourth name, Grosskreutz, is primarily a winger who occasionally plays as a WB, so I don’t know why you brought him up.

    2. “In Klopp’s systems it’s always the full-backs offering the width and they’re expected to overlap the wide player.”

    Wrong.

    3. “Due to the nature of his tactics, the gegenpress/high pressing game, his full-backs are expected to go from defence to attack in a matter of seconds numerous times within a match. ”

    Every player is expected to do so. And it’s counter pressing, not “high pressing”.

    4. “Does Flanagan have it in him to do that? Will he be able to bomb down the flank to support the attack? He’s always struck me as a defensive minded full-back.”

    Did you watch him at all in 13/14?

    5. ” We as a team can’t afford to be carrying a player that can’t meet the requirements and that’s a real possibility.”

    It’s a possibility alright, though you have made no credible arguments for it. But then, it’s a possibility for three quarters of the players in the squad as well.

    Stop picking on the lad just to get page views. He’s not perfect, but when you pick on him using imaginary standards, some low-information fans will repeat. And knowing the quality of our fans, that will quickly escalate to verbal abuse.

    • Steve says:

      Well said Ted, I agree on every point you made….

    • Andrew Arrowsmith says:

      Ted, it’s always nice when you’re gearing up for a blistering reply and then you see that someone else has already said what you wanted to say. Cheers bud!

      I’m not saying JF is a certain winner in the side – much as I’d love it. But I think he’s got as much chance as many and more than a few.

    • Tripp says:

      Me too. Poor article.
      Complete misuse of the word ‘debate’ too.

  3. Steve says:

    I think we need to see how Jon plays on his return, give the lad a chance to get match fit and judge him on performances, like every player, he is going to need time after being out for so long, but hey, I think Jon deserves to chance to prove himself again!!!

  4. thelordsson says:

    Dude hasn’t played in like 18 months and you’re writing him off already. At least give him the chance to show the brilliant form he showed in 13/14 before slating him like you clearly are here (even though you claim your aren’t slating him you obviously are). He’s clearly a better footballer than you are a football writer.

  5. Dan says:

    The team needs three good FBs. Moreno is a LB, and Flanagan and Clyne can play on either side. We should keep all of them and play all of them to keep them healthy.

  6. OzRed says:

    Most comments I’ve seen here, so something worked!

    He has a reputation for working hard at training, so I don’t think there’s much doubt about his attitude and he will give it everything he’s got.

    He has been out for a hell of a long time though and a big opportunity to develop has been lost. He wasn’t the finished article before injury and is likely to need more time and patience.

    I hope he makes it but accept he may not.

  7. RedRod says:

    Most dribbled past player in the Premier League 2013/2014 season … what’s more incredible it was achieved playing 23 games out of a possible 38 … and that is ultimately telling … for what is ostensibly a defence minded fullback … I guess the other way you can look at it is … would any top 4 club be interested in buying him ??? Answer = NO !!!

  8. Star says:

    We all should be rejoicing that flanno is coming back…. Am I the only #LFC fan who is not comfortable with the amount of games Clyne has played already? Even Moreno? Do we even have another full back left in the club now?
    How can you doubt flanno when Lovren has been transformed under Klopp.
    What Klopp expects from his players is to go into the pitch and give everything – putting up your best fight. And if you ask me who can do it best in this squad my vote will be shared among Flanno and Sakho.
    I enjoy AI but this article is sh**t
    And it’s no where near a debate

  9. Ashley says:

    As it’s been said the lad has been out with a serious injury and feel it’s a bit unfair to Write him off before he’s been given a chance and who knows working with Klopp may give him a different Dimension to his game as it already has to many other players at Liverpool.
    Finally playing under a coach like Klopp may give him that little bit extra that he hasn’t had under previous coaches like Rogers but what ever Happens it’s just great to see the Lad back !!! Good Luck Jon
    YNWA

    • RedRod says:

      Two things I noted with Flanagan … was his lack of speed and his turning circle of a barge … these simply can’t be eradicated … however much a miracle worker Klopp is … having said that Klopp was a defender in his day … so maybe he can improve his positioning to reduce the risk of being turned and exploited for lack of speed.

      As a manager for the opposition, I would in practice … always attack the weakest link … and unfortunately if Jon was playing … that would be him … in fact teams use to employ this same tactic back in the day against Phil Neal … the difference was the rest of the team was just that good … we would simply outscore them.

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2015-11-30 08:14:31
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