by Lachlan Ballingall (@L_Ballingall)
When Jordan Henderson first arrived at the club many questioned why FSG were prepared to splash around £20 million pounds on a player who had not proved himself in the premier league on a consistent basis. Having spent his career before arriving at Anfield at Sunderland whilst also having spent a short loan spell at Coventry City, there was nothing there to suggest this man would eventually go on to become Steven Gerrard’s apprentice. The most notable achievement Henderson had next to his CV was the fact he captained the England Under 21’s during his time in the system. Even then did any of us believe we would be looking at this man as vice captain today and playing an important role in Brendan Rodgers’ system?
Let’s be honest, there wasn’t a lot to be impressed by when Henderson first arrived. Many said he looked passive and lacked authority. Even the former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson added criticism of Henderson to his autobiography suggesting his running style would not last in the modern game. This apparently stopped Sir Alex Ferguson signing him all those years ago. I guess now we can laugh at that reasoning not to sign him. The problem with modern day football fans is they simply don’t give players the time they need to settle. You only have to look at the signings Brendan Rodgers made this season. When Henderson was given the time he needed to make himself a presence at Anfield he has been able to play a pivotal part in Brendan Rodgers’ side and particularly in the title charge last season. That 2013/14 season was the first time we could see what he was capable of on a consistent basis and the leadership skills he possessed.
Henderson, who succeeded Daniel Agger as vice captain in the 2014/15 season, has managed to get the nod ahead of the likes of Martin Skrtel, Lucas Leiva and even Dejan Lovren who was brought to the club to add leadership to a team that lacked communicators. The making of Henderson has really come through Brendan Rodgers. When Kenny Dalglish was in charge he was playing wide on the right and it was clear it wasn’t his position but even when Rodgers came in, he wasn’t a regular in the side. It’s a credit to the man who could have left Liverpool for more opportunity at Fulham. The fact he wanted to continue to fight for his place automatically showed the fan base on Merseyside and supporters world wide he had the attitude to succeed at such a big club.
You can see a leader in the small things they do. The one clear thing I have noticed about Henderson is when Liverpool score a goal, he is always the first to celebrate with the goal scorer. For many that might not suggest a lot but for me it clearly says he is a team player. Another attribute I love about him is when he scores, he runs of with sheer passion and determination. You can see how much it means to him. Modern day footballers are always bring criticised for not showing enough passion and determination. When I watch Henderson play it looks like his life depends on it. That’s what Liverpool fans want to see. It should mean something when you wear the Liver-bird upon your chest and Jordan Henderson knows that.
Being only at the age of 24, Henderson can really cement that position as captain for a solid 10 years. He will learn and become a better captain as the years progress, that’s what excites me the most. You can see the players respect what he does for the team and they respect him as a person.
The run in Henderson had with teammate Mario Balotelli against Besiktas in the first leg of that Europa league tie suggests he’s a team player. He may of been the designated penalty taker although he knew Balotelli was superior from the spot. It could have been easy for Henderson to line that penalty up, but that showed he’s a team player. Wants the correct result for the team and knew Balotelli was able to give them the best shot at it.
When Steven Gerrard hangs up the boots at Anfield come May, there should be not one Liverpool supporter questioning who the next captain is. Jordan Henderson is everything a Liverpool captain should be. He leads off and on the pitch in so many different ways. With the players he has around him now, we could one day be seeing him standing on the podium on the final day of a Barclays Premier League season lifting that trophy that the fans are so desperate to see.