Henderson’s Gerrard-esque performance against United is a bad sign

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Why is Jordan Henderson trying to be Steven Gerrard?

I never wanted to see a repeat performance of what I saw Steven Gerrard give in the second half against Chelsea in the 2013/14 season as he tried single handedly to make amends for his slip. It wasn’t his fault but he acted like every single one of the Liverpool fans would have in that situation. Your head goes. Logic is thrown out of the window and it becomes a battle with yourself. The captaincy usually buoyed him on but in that game against Chelsea it was an anchor tied to all the fans dreams and it weighed heavy.

Henderson Gerrard-esque performance bad sign

Logic vs guilt and pride, the latter comes out on top nearly every time.

Gerrard left and with him went the last player truly connected with the fans. The fan on the pitch element disappeared and I’ve seen many say that’s why we lost yesterday. We didn’t have the players on the pitch that knew what the game meant. I disagree. Jordan Henderson gave his best Steven Gerrard performance to date. It’s just not the one fans wanted to see.

This shoot on sight policy is not something we associate Henderson with but yesterday I think he made up for all those shots he’s not been able to make due to missed games because of injury. A player usually so careful with the ball and good at retaining it was giving it back to United at an alarming rate.

What’s worse is the fact I can only recall one of his shots actually being on target. A tame shot straight at De Gea after good work from Roberto Firmino.

He was visibly riled up at kick-off.

Arguing with the referee and his linesmen from minute one. Throwing his arms around in a strop when something went against us. Chasing players that weren’t his to chase and vacating his area. Trying to rush passes when everything was just off.

Gerrard let his passion fuel his performance against United. It was natural and it worked (his last game against them aside). Henderson was playing an unnatural game so this side of him made it all the worse.

It was the sort of performance that you’re usually pulled to one side by your captain and told to get your shit together. You know exactly what Henderson did to Christian Benteke on Wednesday after the Belgian had a strop when Jordon Ibe didn’t pull the ball back to him.

This was not a captains performance. This wasn’t the side of Jordan Henderson we needed to see. I appreciate he was doing his best to show passion but what’s passion without quality? That’s not the mentality you want from your captain. He needs to manage the occasion and not let the occasion manage him like it so clearly did.

We needed the Jordan Henderson from the Arsenal match. The one that ran the midfield against the league leaders because that’s exactly what he did. Henderson and Emre Can should have had enough in them to get the better of Fellaini and Morgan Schneiderlin. Emre Can started off how he finished the Arsenal game but seemed to grow into the game. He’s been accused of being too laid back but in a game were heads can be lost I’d rather see that than the one Jordan Henderson provided us all with yesterday.

The captain should have made the most of the space afforded to him by the limited Fellaini, he should have gone about linking up play like he does in those tight areas in the half space and Liverpool probably would’ve created even more chances to miss. These wouldn’t have just been pot shots like the ones Henderson seemed to eager to take. What’s he good at? Arriving late into the box. So why yesterday was he taking shots from distance when the better option would have been to look for a pass and make his way into the box?  He was like a player possessed.

Liverpool needed the Jordan Henderson that captained the side to that run of victories in Gerrard’s absence last season. The one with it all to prove at the time. He put in performances that said ‘I should be captain’ and those performances showed maturity. Yesterday was all about naivety. If he treats it as a learning experience then he can grow as a player but if there are more repeat performances his role as captain may come in for some questioning. He wasn’t leading by example against United, he wasn’t leading at all.

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  1. Really good article Sam. You are right, it was worrying. I was wondering if this ‘shoot on sight’ policy has come from Klopp. I’m thinking of Emre Can’s strike against Arsenal that fell to Firmino (does it do anyone else’s head in that every second pundit pronounces it “FIRMINHO” or “FIRMIN-IO”?) after Czech’s parry. It seems like all our midfielders are shooting a lot more often, even Joe Allen! With Hendo’, I much prefer him playing in a, as you put it, more ‘mature’ way. He will never be as good as Stevie at certain things, no problem there because Stevie was just one of the best (if not the best) in the world at grabbing games and effecting them on his own, so he needs to play his own game. I would argue that, at his best there are some pieces of midfield play that he is actually better than Stevie at (for me Stevie G was a much better forward, no.10, or attacking right mid’, than he was a true central midfielder. Hendo’ is very good at playing super-quick balls, either dinked over the top, or whipped in. I feel that his fast paced passing really benefits the team in terms of driving us on, much more so than his dribbling, shooting, etc. We should not forget though, that he has just come back and maybe is still finding his feet especially with Arsenal and United as his first games back. Hopefully this was just an aberration, brought on by the passion for this fixture, even Stevie lost his marbles in this game last year.
    I get the feeling that ALL the players are trying to play, with one eye on the future and securing their place in it. There is no guarantee that Hendo’ will be captain next season so there is maybe also added pressure too.

  2. While I agree with you that he needs to be his own man, he’s been copping a lot of flack elsewhere about not being in people’s faces and being the ‘man’ on the pitch.
    We do need more leaders on the pitch and we do need more goals from mid-field but I think we’re going through a steep learning curve at the moment and players are second guessing themselves a bit & sometimes trying to be something they are not. Benteke is the most obvious example.
    Considering all the changes, I think we’re doing OK and will get better as players settle down

  3. I haven’t seen Henderson as Gerrard replacement in either ways technically or as a leader. The shot Hendo took and went straight to De Gea, well that should have been the goal if you really think of him as gerrard. As a captain you must perform in big matches that motivates other team mates. So, I believe Hendo is no way near StevieG and He really needs to work hard if he really wants to be there.

  4. Good article. He knows the passion of this fixture and it seemed to get to him. We always want to see passion when the red shirt is put on, but sometimes that manifests itself into a more hot-headed approach rather than tactical. That’s the key, to play with passion yet retain your view of the big picture rather than just that moment. But anyway, as pointed out, he is only just back from a injury layoff. Let’s hope for a decent run of games to build up the sharpness and see how he’s faring then.

  5. very accurate article, Hendo loves Liverpool and that is what we want to see from our players. against Manchester it did not work but that man plays with heart so it is understandable he wants to beat our biggest rivals, after all his our he should try everything. again I never thought Hendo can become the player he is today, his already a legend.

    • @Sbu South Africa… My goodness, it doesn’t take much to become a LEGEND in your books, does it?
      Henderson may have improved quite a bit but he’s nowhere near Liverpool player caliber.
      Just remember LFC midfields of Mascherano, Stevie G, Alonso, Gary McCallister…etc, not to mention the LEGENDS before my time.

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