Glen Johnson must go on attack to prove his worth at Liverpool FC

By Mark Lawrenson on Jun 30, 09 07:33 AM in Columnists


GIVEN how much I banged on about Liverpool lacking match-winners last season, I wouldn't have thought spending £17million on a right-back would have been the solution to their problems.

But when that right-back is Glen Johnson I happen to think it could be a very sound investment.

Because Johnson is a match-winner. The last time I saw him play was at the end of the campaign when England played Andorra and he set up four of the goals.

Now I appreciate the opposition was worse than second rate but it was a performance that summed up what the player is all about.

He gets forward and causes defenders problems - gives them something extra to worry about in their own third of the field - and has the accuracy in his delivery to create goal-scoring opportunities.

And that will be absolutely vital to Liverpool in their attempts to break teams down next season.

This is, of course, only going to come true if Johnson actually plays to the best of his ability but I can't see any reason why he won't.

His confidence should be sky high after a season in which he has made himself England's first-choice right-back.

Ahead of the World Cup next summer, it is his shirt to lose now, and that's a great incentive to take into next season - he should be flying by the time he finally takes to the field in the red of Liverpool.

Another issue surrounding the player would of course be his price tag - but I just don't think defenders have the same pressure to live up to a high price as a forward does.

With centre-forwards it's all about how many goals they get and how they fit in to a system. That's why there was so much scrutiny on Robbie Keane last year and the pressure of trying to fit in around Fernando Torres and also making sure he got his own game right.

Neither happened and the whole transfer saga was quickly consigned to the history books.

But there isn't the same burden on full-backs to fit in to a side. The role is clearly defined and it has also become one of the most valuable positions on the pitch now.

I remember when I became Liverpool's record signing from Brighton in 1981 and the pressure was taken off me by Bob Paisley saying that it was my versatility which made me worth the money in his opinion.

And it's the versatility of the modern full-back that makes one well worth the investment.

They are the people who probably see more of the ball than anyone else on the field and Johnson loves being on the ball.

And the likes of Yossi Benayoun and Dirk Kuyt will love that because Johnson's danger will pre-occupy defenders enough to give them more freedom to create.

Yes, there are bound to be questions and raised eyebrows about spending so much money on a right-back.

But if that particular right-back ends up playing his part in a first title-winning campaign for 20 years, then nobody will mention the price again.

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