A dramatic turnaround shows the measure of a player, and none more so than Jordan Henderson, who has been named as Liverpool’s new vice-captain.
When he first came to Liverpool, only 20 years old, the glimpses we saw in his first season were quite timid, and looking like this step was one too big at the time. No doubt, there was potential there, but nothing like the Jordan Henderson we know today.
As a fan of Jordan as a player for years, I’ve praised him in terms of development left, right and centre. The type of player he has matured in to in the past couple of seasons is remarkable.
It’s true that you’ve got to have the quality attributes there to make it as a player, which he does. However, what has really shone through is the desire and determination to put this Liverpool side back where it is today – in the Champions League, and considered a top contender again.
It’s been mentioned in a few of my previous articles, but people only start to realise how much of a vital component Henderson is in our team, when he was suspended for three of the four final matches last season. And even though that particular sending-off couldn’t be argued with, it was just another example of how he will go to the nth degree to win. In my opinion, this was the point when our title challenge came to an end. Our squad was thin, and losing one of our most influential players was a big blow.
He may not come across as a so called “match-winner” in terms of scoring screamers in the final minutes like Steven Gerrard, but it’s the tireless work that also reaps the rewards.
After starting off in the team under Kenny Dalglish as more of a defensively central midfielder, we only really began to see the best of Henderson under Rodgers.
He was given the freedom to roam and use his undying pace to push the attack forward, taking the baton from Gerrard who now has to play a deeper role to prolong his career.
The pressure he puts under opposition defenders to regain possession continues until the final whistle, exactly what you need with the type of football Brendan Rodgers likes us to play.
Talking of pressing – Jordan Henderson pressed the ball a record 50 times for Liverpool in that memorable 3-0 win against Spurs. With stats collected by AnfieldIndex it’s clear to see that Jordan is the leader in this category pressing the ball the most times this season with 134 pressing actions. That’s 2.6 minutes per press from Liverpool’s new vice captain and that’s very impressive!
In terms of personal qualities, his confidence on the pitch seems to have grown over the past few years. You could have said that Martin Skrtel was a good candidate for the role of vice-captain too, but recently we’ve all seen Henderson developing the characteristics required.
He’s loud on the pitch, a commanding presence, stands up for his teammates, and never gives up. In the final few years that Steven Gerrard has left in his career, it’s vital that Henderson continues to grow in terms of how to lead, and who better to learn from?
To say I’m pleased with the appointment is an understatement. Some say that the honour should be given to a player who it would generate the extra 10% out of, but for someone who gives that already, and more, I couldn’t think of a better candidate.