The ‘Scouse Cafu’ is anything but nowadays.
Few players have burdened the expectations of a club quite as badly as Jon Flanagan, who now probably wishes he was never considered a prodigy. The Liverpool-born full-back became one of the youngest players in history to don a spot in the Reds’ first-team squad when he was handed the No.38 shirt for the 2010/11 campaign just shy of his eighteenth birthday. He was an impressive player at the time, believe it or not, someone who functioned beyond his years with a real sense of purpose and zeal; an attacking threat as much as he was a defensive powerhouse. Hence the name ‘Scouse Cafu’ (read more via ESPN).
An impressive debut against Manchester City in April 2011 was followed up by a staunch performance at the Emirates. In a sort of hyperactive frenzy in which every ball needed to be won during the game he even knocked out captain Jamie Carragher, the centre-back unfortunate enough to meet the lump in an aerial duel.
The Englishman came on leaps and bounds in his first season of Premier League football. Yet he found himself occupying the bench for the majority of the following season under Brendan Rodgers – a man who preaches the word of total football. Something Jon Flanagan had not quite got his head around yet. The limited appearances he did make were, shall we say, rather rubbish.
Two seasons later he broke his way back into the senior squad making more appearances than ever before roaming up and down the line like a lost troll. We should not let his simple demeanour sidetrack us though, he really was quite the player in between 2013 and 2014. Flanagan even earned himself a spot as one of the seven stand-by players for the World Cup finals in Brazil. And knowing England’s luck, that was as good as being selected.
Disclaimer: he never went.
A year later the full-back was decimated by injuries. A knee problem saw him out of action for 619 before he made his long-awaited return against the mighty Exeter in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, followed by an even more prestigious clash against Stoke.
Game time did not much improve under Jurgen Klopp, who explained that he wanted Flanagan to ‘build a base for his fitness’. Which essentially means fetch your bike, there is no future for you here. And, as it turns out, there wasn’t.
A brief and uneventful loan spell at Burnley was just around the corner, where he spent 25 games as an unused substitute and managed just 45 minutes of Premier League football in the second half of the season. His public image wasn’t much helped by an assault charge on his girlfriend.
He was eventually released by Liverpool last year and joined up with Steven Gerrard and Rangers almost immediately. The midfield legend, clearly stuck in the past, neglected to consider how far his former teammate had fallen.
Needless to say, he has been pretty woeful this season and surely looks certain to dumped from the club at the end of the season having made just eleven sad and sorry league appearances.
Liverpool fans, what are some of your standout memories of Jon Flanagan? Join the discussion by commenting below…
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