Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan said that his forceful early tackle on Raheem Sterling was something he ‘had to do’ for the Anfield crowd.
The full back’s challenge on his former team-mate, which delighted the home support, set the tempo for the 3-0 win over Manchester City on Wednesday night.
Flanagan, who recently returned to first-team action following a 20-month-long spell sidelined with a knee problem, later told reporters that the ‘reducer’ was done with the fans in mind.
“It was something I had to do to get the crowd up,” he said. “The crowd have been fantastic, always right behind me even in the dark days.
“Me and Raheem were good mates at Liverpool but now he’s gone to City it is just business on the pitch.”
The 23-year-old came into the starting line-up having sat out of Sunday’s penalty shoot-out defeat to City in the Capital One Cup final and impressed manager Jurgen Klopp with a display of defensive solidity.
Flanagan’s current contract with Liverpool expires at the end of the season and talks regarding a new deal have reportedly stalled.
As a local-born academy graduate, the full back is highly thought of among the club’s support and his performance followed suggestions from Klopp that a ‘positive solution’ to the contract impasse could soon be found.
“It is great to be back in the Premier League. It has been a nightmare with injuries,” Flanagan said, regarding his return to first-team action.
“I am feeling good and fit and sharp so I am just trying to get as many games as possible.
“I am just leaving that side [contract talks] to my agent to see what happens but it was great to hear those words from the manager in the press conference.”