Glen Johnson’s position as first-choice right-back for Liverpool could be under threat after an impressive performance from Spanish youngster Javi Manquillo against Real Madrid last night.
The English defender has been labelled by fans of Liverpool and England as a liability in their defences in recent times. It was his mistake in the return fixture at Anfield that allowed Benzema to score Madrid’s second goal when he was left unmarked at the back post.
Despite Mario Balotelli’s failure to close down the cross, Johnson was equally culpable as he did tightly mark his man, giving Benzema a free header at goal.
Parallels could be drawn from this to his performance against Uruguay in England’s crucial second World Cup group game last June.
Despite the world being aware of Edinson Cavani’s quality, it seemed Johnson was not. He allowed the forward space to pick fellow striker Luis Suarez out, with the resulting header putting England 1-0 down at a crucial stage of the game.
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Johnson: Error prone
Going forward Johnson has unquestionable qualities. He is almost as equally adept with his left foot as he is with his right, scoring on occasions for his current, as well as previous clubs with it.
He is also adept at crossing the ball and has provided numerous assists for his teams in recent years. However, the emergence of Manquillo, as well as several promising English defenders, including Nathaniel Clyne and Calum Chambers, has left Johnson’s place in doubt for both club and country.
In order to restore his reputation Johnson needs to cut out the errors, but it seems he is oblivious to such mistakes. The defender has in the past responded to criticism in a robust manner via his Twitter page.
A few years ago he hit back at criticism from Paul Merson, saying: “Comments from alcoholic drug abusers are not really gonna upset me and who is Merson to judge players, he was average at the best of times.”
He added: “the only reason he is on that show is because he gambled all his money away. The clown!”
Johnson’s oblivious nature of his own poor defensive performances was also present last season after he had a hand in all three of Crystal Palace’s goals, when Liverpool collapsed at Selhurst Park in May.
After criticism from Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on Sky Sports, as well as from his own fans following the game, Johnson retorted by suggesting that his critics were “absolutely clueless.”
There have been positive moments for Johnson defensively. He showed good awareness to head the ball off the line after Simon Mignolet flapped at a Newcastle corner on Saturday.
Manquillo could replace him
However, the right-back should study some of his mistakes of recent times and work out who actually appears “clueless.” Failure to do so and the promising Javi Manquillo will become more of a fixture in the Liverpool starting eleven.
Perhaps the same will be said for the likes of Clyne and Chambers at international level also.
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