20 million quid. A 21 year old bought from Sunderland. Not many knew the name, not many had seen him play. Fans questioned the club’s transfer policy. Overpaying for average players had become a dictum Liverpool Football Club adhered to with minimal deviation. Alberto Aquilani and Riera come to mind when you think about players who have failed at the club. Liverpool paid a considerable sum to secure their services. It is curious that players of such undisputed talent failed to acclimatize themselves to the Premier League. When Jordan Henderson was recruited for a humongous fee of 20 million, I sat at home wondering if we had another Aquilani or Riera at hand. A player who would give us a few good performances and then fade into oblivion. Who would then be sold to another club for minimal resale value. “20 million quid for a 21 year old?” read the headlines on several websites after he was signed. I doubt there were any Liverpool fans who would’ve considered the deal a great piece of business by the club. A relatively unproven talent for so much money is a deal even a 10 year old football fan won’t agree with. However, such is the over-valuation of English players that everyone reserved their judgment for the future when they’ve seen Henderson showcase himself on the field.
Considered a bit too young for a central midfield role at a big club, by the manager Dalglish, Henderson’s career began on the right-wing for Liverpool. Blessed with great athleticism, Henderson coped with the battle reasonably well. He had the pace to go past a full-back, the defensive nous to help his team’s right back in defense and be available as an outlet on the wing for the central midfielders to ping balls to. However, what Henderson lacked was the flair, the occasional showboating skills, to go past multiple defenders if need be. For any observer, it seemed conspicuous that he found the role relatively uncomfortable. Delegating a natural midfielder to an outing on the wing seldom works out. Gerrard himself has played there before but he rarely had the same influence on a game from out wide than from a central role. The above-average performances of Henderson over several matches let to disapproving murmurs being heard amongst the fans. Comments such as “Here we go again, another average player in our ranks!” or “Did we really pay 20 million pounds for that kid?” could be read all over Facebook or over the club’s forum webpage. His average performances led to him being reserved to the bench for the latter part of Dalglish’s spell as manager. Even Rodgers earlier considered him an entity he could discard and reclaim a small amount of the 20 million paid.
However, Henderson wasn’t to be put down by a relegation to the bench or by being considered a superfluous entity at the club. He is the kind of player who would run through a brick wall for the club if he had to. After declining Rodgers’ proposal of a move to Fulham, Henderson continued to work tirelessly to improve his technical skills. Now, he has gradually become a player Rodgers would hesitate to put on the bench, let alone dispense with completely. Henderson’s an invaluable asset to the club sole for his desire and energy. Seldom have I seen a Liverpool player run up and down the pitch for the entirety of a game. Last I remember it was another English midfielder who was omnipresent on the pitch, jumping into tackles and setting up attacks in an instant. Yes, Henderson might not possess the thunderous right foot of Gerrard or his tackling ability, but what he does possess is Gerrard’s insatiable desire to win and his limitless energy of days past. The medical team recently stated that they fear for players like Henderson and Suarez who they believe would play every day of the week if they could. They love football and want success more than anything. It is these breed of players that form the heart of a club and are the players we turn to for inspiration. You’d never hear a fan criticize Henderson’s performance for lack of drive or purpose. They know that when he walks onto the pitch, he is a fan himself who’d do anything to secure victory for his club.
I for one have utmost respect for players who never give up. On countless occasions, I have seen Henderson sprinting back to win the ball after a team-mate lost it in the opposition’s half. If football was a game where you had to rack up “distance covered” numbers, Henderson would be out of sight by half-way into the season itself. His desire is evident from his passionate goal celebrations too. Fans love his celebrations more than his goals, for all fans love players who display the same fervor and zest as them.
With the season entering the last few games, I am assured that Jordan Henderson would have a major part to play in deciding where we finish this season. After his peerless performance against Swansea which was studded with two well taken goals, no one can doubt his value to the side. Roy Hodgson himself acknowledged the midfielder’s stellar form and rewarded him with a start for England this past week. If Henderson continues to run amok in games with the same drive, it’s hard to see how he doesn’t deserve to start in Brazil.
I’m sure Henderson will keep putting in Herculean efforts on the field for every game in his career and we should be glad we have such a player in our ranks. Gerrard’s retirement in the future would require someone to fill in his boots. The task of replacing such a legend might seem daunting but then Henderson is no ordinary individual.
In the past five seasons, Liverpool have had mixed form in the last 10 games of the respective seasons, the stage Brendan Rodgers’ side are at now. From the 2008/09 season where Rafa Benitez ran a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Manchester United side close to the title, till Rodgers’ first campaign last year – 2012/13 – it seems to be that one season’s magnificent end of season run will be followed up by a mediocre final ten games. Having had a pretty good end to last season, Reds fans will be hoping this trend does not continue into this potentially great campaign.
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2008/09 – 9 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses
Benitez’s Liverpool side entered the last ten games of the season in third, having led the league during the New Year. They needed to have a flawless end to the season, and hope United slipped up at some point, in order to have any shot at the title. The fearsome offensive combo in Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres ensured that, with comfortable home wins against Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, adding onto victories at Hull City, West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion. Further, Torres tormented Nemanja Vidic in that 4-1 win at Old Trafford, where even Anfield flop Andrea Dossena got in on the act with a cheeky lob over Edwin van der Sar. However, it was that only draw in the last 10 games costed Benitez, a crazy 4-4 draw against Arsenal at Anfield, which saw Emirates flop Andrei Arshavin bag four and effectively ended Liverpool’s hope of that elusive 19th championship title.
2009/10 – 4 wins, 3 losses, 3 draws
Benitez could not follow up the previous campaign with another sustained title charge. And as the season started drifting away, the Reds seemed to want the season to end early. They only saw victories against bottom-half teams, while suffering abysmal draws at Birmingham City and Hull, as well as at home against Fulham. Further losses at Manchester United and Wigan, and a home defeat to Chelsea would eventually see Benitez fired at the end of campaign and mark the start of Liverpool’s absence from the Champions League.
2010/11 – 6 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw
After coming in to save Liverpool from the predicament the current England manager Roy Hodgson put them in, club legend Kenny Dalglish oversaw a blistering end of season form that would see him be rewarded a permanent contract before the start of the next campaign. New signing Andy Carroll would enjoy his best game at the club against Manchester City, where he bagged two in a 3-0 victory, while fellow January buy Luis Suarez inspired the Reds to a famous 3-1 win against United, where Dirk Kuyt bagged a hat-trick. However great these victories were, the Reds’ habits against ‘lesser’ teams still held as they lost to West Brom, Villa and Spurs.
2011/12 – 3 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses
Probably the worst end to the season in recent memory, what made this all the worse was that it followed a League Cup victory, which should have provided the momentum for a push for Champions League qualification. Instead, Liverpool suffered from the curse of the League Cup as they first suffered a defeat at relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers, after going 2-0 up, an insipid defeat at home against Wigan Athletic, and a 2-0 defeat at Newcastle where Pepe Reina saw red for a Alan Pardew-esque head-butt. It was a case of the Reds either focusing on the FA Cup final, which they lost, or just simply gave up. Unfortunately, this led to Dalglish’s sacking. Ironically, the last game of the season was a defeat at, yes you guessed it, Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea City side.
2012/13 – 5 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss
Though most of the draws should have been wins, it was still a terrific end to the season under the new boss, and especially with Suarez out for the last 4 games due to his bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic. Still, Liverpool managed to cope with the combined efforts of January buys Daniel Sturridge and Philipp Coutinho, with 3 wins in that last four games. Still, there were those two unlucky goalless draws at Reading and against West Ham at Anfield, the fortunate 2-2 draw against Chelsea, and that abysmal 3-1 reverse at Southampton. Fortunately, this form did carry over into the next season.
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Taking the average of the last five season’s final 10 games, Liverpool will gather at least five wins in the next two months, and one should be able to pick up which five league games the Reds should win; there will also be close to three defeats and two draws. However, with the big teams coming to Anfield this time, the Reds should be able to go against statistics and convert some of those five negative results into positive wins.
Still, the main issue is how Liverpool deal with so-called ‘lesser’ teams away from home, like they did against Southampton last weekend. With Lucas Leiva and Mamadou Sakho finally back from injury and playing their part in the reserves’ win last night, Liverpool should have enough depth in their squad to secure the wins they should, while pushing the other three teams hard in the last race of this long, drawn-out marathon. Yet, the focus should still be the same: Champions League qualification.
The NYC Kopites are proud to announce the biggest LFC radio show and podcast on planet Earth will be broadcasting live from Football Factory at Legends New York City!!!!
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NYC Kopites will host The Anfield Wrap.
Sunday March 16th Man UTD vs Liverpool FC 9am EST. Live show after the match and a special surprise guest.
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Hello EOTK fans, after watching England beat Denmark last night I wanted to talk about England’s chances in the World Cup this summer, Whilst the squad included 5 of Liverpool’s stars I wanted to have an overall look.
Who I believe has merited a place so far… Sterling, Sturridge, Gerrard, Hendo, Rooney, Lallana and many more. Can we get through a tough group? , the answer to that is yes I believe we can.. and so should you!
Who is our main man for the summer?
Please tweet me the name of the player with #”NAME” and view my video for my full views.
Written By : Alex Sales