It wasn’t long ago that Brendan Rodgers was lauding Jordan Henderson as the captain in waiting with the prospect of Steven Gerrard’s departure to LA Galaxy at the end of the season.
Henderson has enjoyed a remarkable upturn in fortunes since Kenny Dalglish brought him to Liverpool from Sunderland in 2011. Following some uninspiring early form, and being almost sold by the club, the 24 year-old has flourished under the guidance of Rodgers and is now an integral part of the team. He has gone from being written off by the manager to becoming one of the first names on the team sheet. In fairness, it must be said that The former Black Cats home-grown talent has been a worthy recipient of the praise that has come his way.
The journey peaked in January of this year when Rodgers stated in the Guardian “…there is no question he can go on and become captain at the club.”. However it now seems that the Norther Irishman is back-peddling after another of his over-zealous and inflated claims. Fast forward one month and the words on the hymn sheet have changed somewhat.
In the wake of the debacle on the pitch in the Europa Cup last 32 match against Besiktas, the Liverpool boss is now helping himself to a slice of the proverbial Humble Pie. When asked during yesterday’s press conference: Is Henderson the next Liverpool captain? The 42 year-old was more diplomatic in his response as quoted on the BBC. “People see him as the automatic next captain but that’s not necessarily the case”. The boss goes on to say that everyone is trying to “catapult” Henderson into the next Steven Gerrard. Is it everyone, Brendan? Or I s everyone a euphemism for yourself?
Jordan Henderson showed in Thursday’s match to be a little naive. Some won’t like me for saying that but for me, this is clear. As captain, his role is to carry out the boss’s instructions as well as motivate the team etc. Even if that means indirectly. Also insofar as, should it not be obvious, then think! Mario Balotelli is the second penalty taker. Henderson was nominated because both first and second choices didn’t start the game. If the situation changes, then Henderson as captain, must act accordingly. On Thursday the situation changed and act, he didn’t. At least not without fuss in any case. I’d even argue that momentarily he lost control of the situation. Rodgers has seen this and it’s my opinion that he’s revising his earlier claim. There are at least two other options to take over from the soon-departed Gerrard.
The obvious choice for the LFC File is Lucas Leiva. The 28 year-old Brazilian is now in his eighth season with the Reds and it’s no coincidence his reintroduction in the side has seen their form return to that matching the seasons expectations. Since Rafa Benitez brought him to the club, he has overcome also, an indifferent start to establish himself as a dependable and capable holding midfielder. Let’s not forget Lucas did not lose his place in the team last season through poor performances. His place was lost because Rodgers chose to indulge his obsession with prolonging Gerrard’s career and thus the former Brazil U21 captain was the victim.
Another plausible candidate is Mamadou Sakho. The Frenchman has blossomed this season into, along with Emre Can, the driving force behind Liverpool’s defensive improvement and bedrock of their rediscovered form. At 25, he has already five years’ international experience notching up 24 appearances and was one of the stand out defenders during last year’s World Cup finals. This season he has proved his ability to organise the defence and galvanise the team. Essential requirements for a long standing captain.
I’m not saying that Henderson should not be captain at any point. What I’m saying is that there are others more deserving at this point in time who in my opinion stake a stronger claim. Both Lucas and Sakho would bring more to the captaincy than the current choice. In Brendan Rodgers defence, he is clearly someone that learns from his mistakes and his ability to do so has saved him from the sack this season. One reservation I do have is that he tends to get carried away on occasion with his superlatives and it annoys the hell out of me.
It’s clear Rodgers is a Liverpool fan. He acts like one, he talks like one and there’s no question he’s LFC through and through. However, I do wish he’d wind his neck in sometimes and not get so carried away. He’s handled the “Penalty-gate” situation very well and the whole thing should be put to bed now. Where a captain is concerned, Brendan give it a bit more thought. As the old saying goes: Loose lips sink ships and the good-ship LFC’s season has only just got afloat!
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