Rangers edged out FC Ufa in a nervy tie at Ibrox last night with the team not clicking into gear they way they have done in Govan recently. One player who perhaps embodied this was Jon Flanagan.
The full back toiled at times going forward. Not defensively – where he was resolute and no-nonsense when he had to be. But when he got the chance to cross on the left he was nearly always apprehensive. He was far too reluctant on his left.
Playing out of position
Granted, Jon Flanagan isn’t a flying wingback. He’s a no-nonsense old-fashioned full back. But last night he lacked energy in the final third and often stifled momentum by pulling inside.
This isn’t singling the English cap out. Rangers struggled to find their rhythm against a frustrating Ufa side. There were so many niggly little free-kicks which could’ve been put to bed had the referee got the cards out earlier.
But we got the win. If Rangers score in Russia, FC Ufa need three. Teams are finding it hard enough to score one. And Flanagan is of course a big part of that.
Not an attacking threat but solid defensively
Going forward, it’s hard to envisage Flanagan as the main left wing back. With an inside forward like Kent in front of him, or even Muphy before his injury, the game leans back in to the centre when it’s on that side. Rangers are perhaps at their most dangerous when early balls are whipped in from each flank.
The fact Flanagan played a major role in keeping a clean sheet and this was still his poorest performance speaks volumes. Rangers have a solid option in the former Liverpool man. As an attacking threat though? No.
Expect Barisic to be the first-choice wingback, with Lee Wallace set to be offered a reprieve as back up.
Still has a big role to play
Flanagan is reliable, solid and industrious at times, and will provide ample cover on each side. Even being the preferred choice in certain matches.
Where Rangers need to go and control games, Barisic will be preferred.
Where we’re closing teams out, Flanagan will be a key man.