First off reports are that his Bolton loan was pretty poor – fans of the Wanderers have been scathing in their assessment of the right back – essentially suggesting he didn’t produce what they’d expected and they were glad to see the back of him. The big caveat here of course is, with all due respect to them… they’re Bolton.
It is hard for a Liverpool player to lift themselves up on loan at a relegation-contending Championship side who only escaped such a fate by two points. This is not to disrespect the Trotters – they’re an honourable and decent club, but some players just don’t do well at lower flight clubs especially on loan. Most of Rangers’ loanees going out struggle at their loan clubs too – Harry Forrester, Joe Dodoo, Carlos Pena to name three recent examples all failed to impress at Wimbledon, Charlton and Azul Cruz respectively.
However, there is also the moral issue, and we admit at Ibrox Noise we’re a little troubled by it too. Flanagan’s conviction was disquieting. It wasn’t just a little slap, or even a vile punch, but CCTV confirmed it was a full on assault and the lad threatened someone else who tried to intervene. It was ugly, vicious, and not what we want to see.
He was lucky to escape incarceration and he knows it. Many will point to our manager Steven Gerrard also being caught on CCTV involved in a bar room brawl as well, and that too was disturbing, but drunken boys will be drunken boys with each other and alpha males mixed with fermented vegetable juice frequently works out badly. But Flanagan’s case was with a female, and that makes it even uglier.
We don’t have any intention of making moral judgements on Flanagan’s character – he was a model citizen till then, and the girl didn’t leave him on top of his absolute remorse over it. Everyone is entitled to a second chance, and everything is wiped clean for us under Gerrard – not just our own underperforming players’ displays last season, but those we sign too.
We have all made dreadful mistakes in life, and none of us is perfect enough to be sanctimonious about the actions of others. He did the crime and he’s paid for it.
It’s the hard reset button for us with regards anything he did in the past. Including playing poorly for Bolton.
He has a blank slate – here’s hoping the lad makes good use of it.