Why Jurgen Klopp will relish the return of Jon Flanagan

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This year, Jurgen Klopp will be hopeful Liverpool will show more character.

The German witnessed his side defeated by Newcastle United and Watford in December, with the 3-0 loss against the latter one of the most dismal displays in recent memory from the Reds.

Klopp is adamant his side already possess plenty of character, but there are still people who doubt his side's temperament.


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Local Talent

In great Liverpool teams, there's always been at least one local talent who's grown up either supporting or playing for the club from a young age.

The likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and John Aldridge were all local born and were raised with the morals of a Red. Although Carragher was an Everton supporter growing up, he was at Liverpool's academy from a young age and always understood what was expected.

Home talent is vital in any Liverpool team. They understand what the supporters want and expect, and their local knowledge allows them to set the example to others.

Since the departure of Gerrard, the Reds have distinctly missed having a Merseyside native in their team. Connor Randall and Jordan Rossiter have made a handful of appearances, but they're still learning their trade and trying to establish themselves as first-team regulars.

Klopp likes his side to play with emotion, creating a bond between himself, his players and the fans.

Although the likes of Jordan Henderson and Mamadou Sakho have become adopted Scousers, they are not true Liverpool natives who grew up in and around the city.

Flanagan Breakthrough

The Reds are crying out for a local lad and the return of Jon Flanagan will delight his manager and the fans. Having been with the club since he was just 11, as well as growing up around the corner from Anfield, Flanagan can add much-needed passion to Klopp's side.

The former St Francis Xavier schoolboy possesses all the qualities to succeed at Liverpool: passion, hard work and a relentless attitude to win.

He made his debut for Liverpool at just 17 and made several first-team appearances over the next few seasons, but his breakthrough season came during the 2013/14 campaign.

Flanagan was given the nod to start in the Merseyside derby away against Everton. Along with Gerrard, Flanagan knew exactly what it meant to make the short journey across Stanley Park and pick up three points.

Many were surprised by Brendan Rodgers giving the youngster a call-up in such a vital game and some were worried he would be overwhelmed by the situation.

Instead, Flanagan rose to the occasion admirably. From the first whistle, you could clearly see his burning desire to win. He committed himself to every tackle, even those which he had little chance of winning, and was outstanding at left-back.

Despite his inexperience, he led by example and his willingness to succeed was even applauded by the Blue half of Merseyside. Although the match finished 3-3, Flanagan barely put a foot wrong throughout and Kopites were highly impressed by him and insisted Rodgers played him more often.

Flanagan went on to make a further 22 appearances that season and was a vital member of Rodgers' side who went within a whisker of winning the Premier League title.

Whether he started on the right or left-hand side of defence, his effort could never be faulted.
He averaged five defensive actions per game and his efforts were rewarded by being called up by Roy Hodgson to take part in England's friendlies in America prior to the World Cup.

When he scored his first goal for Liverpool away at Tottenham Hotspur, Flanagan could not control his emotion. He'd likely dreamed scoring for his boyhood club from the moment he could kick a ball and his celebration showed how ecstatic he was.

Flanagan Return

Flanagan turned 23-years-old on New Years Day. He's missed the last 19 months with a series of knee injuries, having last played against Newcastle United on the final day of the 2013/14 campaign.

He would have been frustrated more than any watching from the sidelines and not being able to do anything about his side finishing a lacklustre seventh in the league last term.

He returned to action earlier this week in a friendly behind-closed-doors against Fleetwood Town and is back training with the first-team. Having been deprived of almost two years of his career, he'll be filled with emotion when he does return and be desperate to claw back all of his missed time.

When Liverpool's backs are against the wall, Flanagan is the sort of player who will lead from the front and not go down without a fight.

Have Liverpool missed a player like Jon Flanagan the past two seasons? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box!

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Steven Gerrard
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