Video: Glen Johnson v. West Ham

Ben Hoskins

Looking back at Glen Johnson's man of the match performance against West Ham on Sunday as the fullback who has proven early doubters wrong continues his player of the season form.

Glen Johnson hasn't always gotten the respect his play deserves. Most will at least grudgingly admit to admiring his attacking talents, but then they will quickly follow any such admission by trying to engineer a move for him to the wing, ignoring that those attacking talents rely heavily on Johnson having the room to run at defenders that only comes when a player regular starts from a more reserved position.

They will point to occasional defensive lapses, ignoring that Johnson is at least as capable of defending as any fullback even half as good in attack as he is and that aside from a six month spell under Roy Hodgson he has been deployed by managers who embrace the current reality of attacking fullbacks and covering midfielders. But then, for some the facts don't especially matter and he's just an easy scapegoat for when something goes wrong, his flaws and mistakes magnified—and at times wholly fabricated—even when they're the least of the club's worries.

In some ways, his experience at Liverpool hasn't been that dissimilar to Lucas', even if the rationale for claiming he just isn't good enough and that Martin Kelly or perhaps even Jon Flanagan would be better for Liverpool's long-term chances is rather the opposite of why some people believed for the longest time that Lucas couldn't cut it. And just as with Lucas, Johnson has always had a small core of staunch supporters just waiting for the day when Liverpool fans in general would realise just how good a footballer he was.

With Johnson playing some of the best football of his career this season and his name in the running as a serious early contender for Liverpool's player of the season, that time may have come. And certainly his performance against West Ham on Sunday, perhaps his strongest in an exceptionally strong season for the fullback, won't have done his case any harm.

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Video by Lenny Aidefors
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