When Jordan Henderson was transferred to Liverpool in 2011, immediately after the club’s utterly torturous 2010/11 campaign, there was a lot of scepticism around his transfer. The reported £20m paid for him was a huge amount of money at the time, but more especially for a young player from humble origins who was still learning his trade.
He was utilised on the right-hand side of midfield by Kenny Dalglish, and had a fairly quiet start to his Liverpool career. With Liverpool making no improvement at all in Henderson’s first two seasons at Anfield, there was an awkward time when many thought he would follow a downward career path. Around that time, several players – such as Joe Cole, Charlie Adam, David N’Gog and Jonjo Shelvey – were struggling badly on Merseyside, eventually having to settle for a smaller club.
It looked for all the world as though Henderson would join that list, but through sheer determination and staying power, he now leads by example in the famous all-red kit. Though a vocal field marshal, Henderson is still relentlessly self-improving in the same way that earned him his dream transfer eight years ago.
Gerrard Comparisons: Unfair and Irrelevant?
Given that Gerrard and Henderson occupied the same basic starting position, the inevitable comparisons with Steven Gerrard were always going to be a heavy burden for Henderson. He was never a player who was going to provide the moments of magic that Gerrard did, and the goal threat was never going to be the same.
Nonetheless, Henderson is as industrious as they come, and his work ethic has helped to make him the perfect replacement for Gerrard. In any case, fair comparisons are difficult, as Henderson captains a much different Liverpool team compared to the one Gerrard did. Indeed, the fact that the former Sunderland man provides relatively little goal threat is a non-issue, with a three-pronged attack now the ideal setup. In Gerrard’s heyday, ‘4-4-2’ was still the standard formation.
With Jurgen Klopp clearly happy for Henderson to break up and spread play, in order to let the attacking players thrive, Liverpool’s captain is unlikely to change his ways now. Indeed, despite Henderson not being the attack-minded ‘Gerrard clone’ many Reds fans still desire, his performance in the Champions League final is a great example of how his functionality under Klopp requires no change.
On that occasion, he worked tirelessly alongside Fabinho to make sure that any Tottenham threats were nullified. In turn, the likes of Salah, Firmino, and Mane were able to threaten Spurs’ goal with the help of the talented fullbacks Robertson and Alexander-Arnold. Indeed, that has been the main characteristic throughout Liverpool’s array of wins this term, and exists as the main fuel towards their latest title charge.
Is Henderson On-Course to Become an Anfield Legend?
Henderson’s leadership on and off the field is going to be instrumental in Liverpool having further success. A relatively young England squad, which is currently burdened with shortening Euro 2020 prices in football spread betting markets, also benefits from his influence during international breaks.
He has the old school professionalism that many modern footballers lack, and while he’ll never go down as one of the greatest of the game overall due to his skill, Henderson is the type of player who extracts every bit of talent out of himself for the betterment of the team.
These days every team has a player who is just happy to do the dirty work and allows more creative players to thrive. Without a player such as Jordan Henderson, Klopp wouldn’t be able to play the expansive football he loves, and if the likes of Salah and Firmino are the star players, Henderson is the supportive backbone who tidies any unwanted threat which comes Liverpool’s end.
Put succinctly, Henderson has been the captain since 2015, and in playing over 300 games for the club alongside a Champions League title, he is now in very rarefied and esteemed company as Liverpool players past and present go.
It is getting increasingly hard to argue that Henderson won’t go down as a legend at the club, as he is still only 29 – and still has a lot more service to give in the red jersey.
With the way Liverpool are currently playing, he could soon add plenty of silverware to that – and even succeed where Gerrard once so infamously failed. Overall, Gerrard won six major trophies at Liverpool, with four of them coming when he was captain.
In practice this means that Henderson is just four trophies away from true greatness, and matching the exploits of a man widely considered second only to ‘King’ Kenny Dalglish in Anfield folklore.