What football fans and managers value above all from a player is a hunger and drive to play. Home-grown players tend to possess this in abundance due to the love they have for the club they have grown up supporting. The greatest example I can think of that has come through in recent years would have to be Jon Flanagan. None can question the spirit and passion he possesses for the club. An example of this would be the aggression with which he challenged Andros Townsend for the ball in the 5-0 mauling of Tottenham Hotspur last season. You would’ve wondered if the result was still in doubt. This is just how Flanno approaches the game. He brings a special and rare tenacity to defence that is no longer seen in English football. He also is very much an old fashioned player.
Flanagan has been absent for the whole of the current campaign and whisperings of a return have been uttered coupled with the superstitious inclination to ‘touch wood.’ The Scouse Cafu played an instrumental part in Liverpool’s title challenge and if he returns to fitness and form Rodgers will be forced to pick his mind as to where he should play the youngster.
In Rodgers season saving formation two wing-backs are a massive part of the effectiveness of the system. Their defensive duties are usually in tracking the opposition fullbacks or wide-men. Their forward-probing nature means a great measure of attacking prowess is necessary. Quite often a wing-back is just a winger converted and therefore need to hone their defensive capabilities. The amount that a wing back is required to get forward is immense due to the extra outlet required as only one striker is available.
Flanagan would be out of sorts in the wing-back role due to his inherent defensive nature and the lack of a natural attacking flair or diversity available to him. His true ability would only be expressed when Liverpool weren’t in possession of the ball and he could get stuck in to challenges. His presence would be wasted and should Liverpool persist with the 3-4-2-1 when young Flanno is fit and in form we will be unlikely to see the best of him.
Liverpool were extremely successful with this formation last season due to the illustrious combination of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. The pair bagged over 50 goals together. Philippe Coutinho, the team’s resident magician played at the head of the diamond and pulled the strings in terms of creative regards. Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva played in the wider roles with Steven Gerrard playing in a deeper, regista role and using his incredible passing range dictated play from a distance as his fading legs didn’t allow for him to venture further forward.
Flanagan played on the left in this scenario displaying excellently his determination to play for the side so much so that he is prepared to play out of position not to mention his versatility. It was in this formation that Flanagan came from left-back to score what many were astonished to see a rugged defender produce from nowhere. The passion that exploded from the man himself and those around him was just fantastic to see!
In summation if young and boisterous Jon Flanagan should return, Brendan Rodgers needs to play him as full back and not a wing-back as he lacks the required attacking initiative but has the defensive rigour and capability to be a solid right back alongside Martin Skrtel. The reason Flanno excels so much in a red shirt is the dedication and love that he has for Liverpool Football Club and the supporters pick up on this. Only a homegrown player is capable of exuding such passion for the club. Flanagan will challenge Markovic, Lallana, Moreno (who has been playing poorly) and Jordon Ibe who is also due to return soon.