By Leanne Prescott
Follow Leanne on Twitter – @Leanne3654
With Liverpool making numerous additions to the squad this summer and the future of certain players subsequently under threat, Jordan Henderson finds himself in familiar territory ahead of a pivotal season for the Reds.
The 26-year-old divides opinion hugely amongst fans. To some, he is the epitome of average and embodies Liverpool’s shortcomings in the transfer market, while to others, he is underrated with few appreciating just what he brings to the side.
Football fans have very short memories in this day and age, with many quick to forget just how important Henderson was in Liverpool’s title challenge. Henderson’s sending off against Manchester City back in April was the pivotal moment for Liverpool. His dynamism in midfield couldn’t be replaced, resulting in gut wrenching defeats to Chelsea and an embarrassing capitulation against Crystal Palace. Liverpool lacked something without his involvement.
While his playing style may not be the most appealing to the eye, Jordan Henderson is a much better footballer than many give him credit for. The ex-Sunderland man had an injury hit season last year, making just 26 appearances at a below-par level. However, despite being blighted with injuries, he still made us a significantly better side, statistically. Of the 17 games he was involved in, Liverpool registered 32 points, resulting in a points-per-game average of 1.88. Of the 21 games he didn’t feature, the Reds took away only 28 points, resulting in an average of 1.33 per game. Despite suffering with a chronic heel injury, Henderson still had a key part to play. His presence is hugely understated.
How can Henderson progress?
Often looking one-dimensional, Henderson fails to take games by the scruff of the neck in the way that past Liverpool captains have and with Emre Can established at the heart of the midfield, and with Marko Grujic and Gini Wijnaldum waiting in the wings, his place in the starting XI is far from secured.
The skipper will know more than anyone that his place is under threat, meaning that Henderson’s career has come to somewhat of a defining monent. Henderson could find himself left behind as Jurgen Klopp looks to take his team to the next level, or he could establish a greater influence in midfield and return to the player he was between 2013 and 2015, adding goals and a better final product to his game.
He may not have a silky running style or the presence and authority of someone like Steven Gerrard, but he has been important for a number of years now and yet, many have forgotten – no thanks to the fickle nature of the modern football fan.
Henderson is not Steven Gerrard, nor will he ever be, but he can play a vital role in a side fuelled with attacking flair yet deprived of a defensive backbone. The Liverpool captain finds himself as the new scapegoat amongst some supporters, but I’m tipping him to once again prove his critics wrong and establish himself as a vital component of Jurgen Klopp’s side.