Jon Flanagan's Performance at Old Trafford Makes Lack of England Call Baffling

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool competes with Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Liverpool's 3-0 defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford saw many impressive performances from Brendan Rodgers' side—individually and collectively the visitors were vastly superior.

Steven Gerrard was Barclay's named man of the match as he put in another inspirational performance in the holding midfield role, but there was another scouser who equally impressed at Old Trafford.

Defender Jon Flanagan continues to go about his work quietly but effectively and his form of late makes the lack of any sort of international recognition all the more baffling.



The 21-year-old was outstanding for Liverpool at left-back, having swapped full-back spots with Glen Johnson—Johnson having started the last two games at left-back and Flanagan at right-back.

The reason for the tactical switch was possibly to have Johnson's pace against Adnan Januzaj—which then meant Flanagan was up against £37 million-man Juan Mata.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Jon Flanagan of Liverpool competes with Juan Mata of Manchester United during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on March 16, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by A
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

No problem for the rejuvenated youngster who has shown he is equally capable on either side of defence in his 16 appearances this season. Mata failed to make any impact of the game, Flanagan playing quite narrow and frequently snuffing out any attempted through balls.

Indeed, so good was Flanagan's performance that he was statistically Liverpool's star player, according to analytics website WhoScored. Flanagan and Joe Allen named in their Premier League team of the week:


GRAPHIC: Premier League Team of the Week - Gameweek 30

— (@WhoScored) March 17, 2014


According to stats site Squawka, Flanagan made seven tackles, seven clearances and three interceptions. Impressive defensive contributions to say the least.

Add in the fact Flanagan picked up a yellow card in the 30th minute and yet he was still so solid and aggressive, in a positive manner, for the remaining hour of the match, makes his performance even more impressive.

Some managers may have been tempted to have replaced their rookie full-back, on a booking and up against Mata, afraid of a second yellow putting his side a man down. But not Rodgers, who showed his faith and belief in his players once again.

Indeed, Flanagan was just one of the 10 outfield players for Liverpool who have all been at the club for over 12 months. The success of the side this season is not down to splashing the cash on big-name signings, but due to Rodgers' coaching and improving players—Flanagan being the perfect example of such.



Admittedly, England boss Roy Hodgson has an abundance of options at left-back already, with Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Luke Shaw fighting it out for who goes to the World Cup this summer.

But Flanagan is equally capable on either side of defence, and nonetheless, the lack of even a call-up for the last England Under-21 squad is baffling to say the least.


Watching yesterday's game I was even more baffled that Jon Flanagan wasn't even in the England u-21 squad recently. He was outstanding.

— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarretTimes) March 17, 2014


Speaking before the squads were announced, Rodgers praised the Liverpudlian, as per The Liverpool Echo:

The quality he's playing at, especially in big games, has been outstanding. The key for Jon is making sure he doesn't think he has cracked it which he has probably learned from last time.

He has now taken his opportunity and we see that hunger. I have been pleasantly surprised by how tactically good he is.

Rodgers was discussing Flanagan's performance up against Santi Cazorla—"a player who jumps inside and we asked Jon to make sure he went inside at the right moments," explained Rodgers, giving an explanation of why Rodgers trusted Flanagan up against Mata.

Speaking after Liverpool's 3-0 victory at Southampton prior to the international fixtures, Rodgers expressed his surprise at Flanagan not even being in the Under-21 squad, via

I couldn't believe he wasn't even in the U21s!

I thought he might have been in with a chance of the full national team because he's played in big games since he came into the team and has been outstanding - but I was equally as surprised he wasn't in the U21s.

He is a young player and still has a way to go. He's improving all the time - you can see home and away he's playing at a really high level. He'll just continue to improve and develop and I'm sure he will get in there at some stage.

With performances such as the one at Old Trafford, he surely will get there at some stage. That is, if Roy Hodgson and Gareth Southgate actually watch football.