I have always enjoyed watching Liverpool ’s Glen Johnson as a footballer. Although you sometimes want to close your eyes when he is backing away onto his own goal defending against a tricky winger, the England international is tremendously gifted when the ball is at his feet.
A precocious dribbler of the ball, Johnson can cause nightmares for many opposition full backs, always ready and waiting to provide an overlap for a winger so he can either force his way into the opposition box or unleash a shot on goal with either foot. The 26 year old has certainly added an extra dimension to the Reds attack since joining from Portsmouth a couple of years ago.
Still, you would be hard pressed to find a Reds fan who feels Johnson merited the £17million fee which Rafa Benitez paid in the summer of 2009. It could be said to be the going rate for an England full back, but like Andy Carroll, you always seem to have to pay a premium for an Englishman.
Although he may not have been worth the fee paid, it must be said that when fit, Glen has managed some very good performances in the last half of the season under Kenny Dalglish . Under previous manager Roy Hodgson , he was a shadow of his former self, and no doubt it was unwise of Roy to criticise the player in public for his poor displays. It was one of the many mistakes during the former Fulham boss’s ill fated 6 month reign, and it was speculated that Johnson was so unhappy about the remarks that he was considering leaving Liverpool in January.
Since the arrival of King Kenny however, along with the team’s performances, Johnson’s form has also picked up markedly. On many occasions Dalglish has asked Glen to fill in at left back due to injuries and the loan move away for Paul Konchesky . Rather than being uncomfortable in the position however, Johnson has looked quite at home. Although his attacking instincts have been curtailed due to the fact he is on his weaker side, the defensive aspects of his game have benefited as he is not caught out of position as often and is more focused on positioning, rather than getting forward.
Certainly, it will be good to see him return to right back next season once a left back is purchased in the summer, and we will again see some great marauding runs forward from the right flank. There is however a possibility that he could continue on the left side. After the emergence of both Martin Kelly and John Flanagan , it would be hard to believe that at least one of these two won’t get a great deal of game time next campaign.
I have no doubt the Reds will seek to buy a new solid left full back in the summer, but Glen Johnson can now be seen as another genuine option for the left full back role, especially if Kelly and Flanagan are given more opportunities next season by Kenny Dalglish.
Read more of David’s articles at Live4Liverpool