Jordan Henderson – Lack Of Ability

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Jordan Henderson has been a heavily discussed topic amongst Liverpool fans for the past year or so, there is probably a 50-50 split between fans who think he isn’t good enough and those, who are still behind him as a player and give him the support he probably deserves. I would like to mention a few things that come to my mind every time I see Hendo play for Liverpool and try to make a few points that in my opinion haven’t been mentioned by anyone who has a wider platform of readers.

First thing that should be mentioned is that back in 2011 when we signed Jordan, it was publicly known Damien Comolli and Dalglish looked for a versatile type of player, who could play in various systems as a central midfielder but mainly would be used as a wide, right midfielder – which is what Henderson was able to offer and along with usage of stats, Comolli praised his ability of creating chances and offering control of the game.

Jordan Henderson - Lack of Ability

He was used mostly as the right sided midfielder, with Adam and Gerrard playing the deeper duo and Suárez playing under Carroll, which allowed him space into moving to more central positions when in possession of the ball as Glen Johnson was always overlapping. Even as a 21 years old he featured in over 35 games and finished the season with just 2 goals and 1 assist – a tally which he topped in each of the following seasons. One performance really stands out, and that was the League Cup final vs Cardiff where he struggled and was massively out of the game, so he was subbed in 58‘ minute for Craig Bellamy.

It always makes me wonder, why you can’t really point out a single world class performance from Henderson in a match vs top class opposition, he always seems to go missing – either partially throughout the game, or for the whole length of it. The question is whether it’s in his head, or he simply doesn’t have enough quality to go toe to toe against some of the best midfielders in the league. For anyone arguing that he was influential in the 2013/2014 season, I would say that’s debatable, I agree that he was – but that was mostly due to the system and tactics implemented by Brendan Rodgers which allowed Henderson to really stand-out as it made the most of his endless running and pressing opponents out of central positions considering we had it overcrowded. I wouldn’t agree it was due to him being in form of his life or being particularly that great player, he’s a solid B+ player, but not good enough for a club that aspires to challenge for the title, or even play in the Champions League.

Jordan has been deployed as the deepest midfielder by Jürgen Klopp, which is in my opinion the worst position he could play in, because it doesn’t play into his strengths and is specifically made to show his weaknesses. Jordan is an enigmatic type of midfielder, he doesn’t have the most obvious weaknesses a player can have – but after years of watching him, you can easily point out some major flaws in his game that hold him and the whole team back.

In a player that plays in any midfield role you need specific attributes, you need him to be able to run box-to-box, to be able to pass the ball, to be composed under pressure, have the ability to read the game and tackle/intercept the ball and prevent the other team from dictating the tempo of the game or breaking through the middle of the pitch. In case anyone would want to argue that I’m simply making stuff up, because I “hate“ Henderson, go and watch highlights of some matches vs great opposition from last season and watch goals conceded from the 3 games we’ve played so far this season – also I’m not saying it’s all his fault, but there is a massive pattern when he, Lallana and Clyne start as they all play the right sided centre of the pitch.

In the defensive aspect of the game, Henderson excelled when he had played beneath him, so he was always ‘safe‘ and could chase the ball and put pressure on the opponent (something similar Lallana does now) without the actual need to make the tackle, as he simply pushed them back or wide, where was a player (full-back/wing-back) who would go in for the tackle, that’s why Henderson was so great during the 2013/2014 season and why he usually struggled when deployed deeper in midfield or when we’ve played a 3 man midfield as we have never had a proper specialist defensive midfielder who would cover for him. Again if you go on and watch some of the chances our opposition creates regularly (for example watch the game vs Dortmund [home & away] or vs Arsenal), there is not a single club in the Premier League, or any of the top 5 leagues who gives away so much freedom, space and pitch control in the centre, in the right sided area of the pitch to be precise. Both Lallana and Henderson cover incredible amount of the pitch, but lack the most important thing, the ability to win the ball, to go into the tackle, so many times you can see Henderson just shadowing a player, standing two metres away from him and just ‘covering‘ whatever and not stepping out against him, making a tackle or closing down the space between him and his midfield partner and they have so much space and time in the middle, they simply cut through our midfield line. If you would want statistics to prove my point (credit to, Jordan averaged 2.4 tackles and 1 interception per game during the 2013/2014 season, N’Golo Kanté last season averaged 4.7 tackles and 4.2 interceptions per game, incredible contrast.

Another thing is that he is one of the highest earners at the club and he’s the captain, but in general he really isn’t a captain material; he isn’t a presence on the pitch, usually you only notice him when he’s shouting at the ref or when he’s staring at a player that is 10 metres away from him. I wouldn’t necessarily say his technique is bad, but at least 50% of midfielders in the Premier League are more potent on the ball than him, because Henderson massively struggles at close control when under pressure, he literally isn’t able to dribble with the ball and drive it out or beat a man 1 on 1, his passing is very simple, ineffective and low-risk. He has this occasional ‚hollywood‘ pass where he brilliantly spreads the game with a long diagonal pass across the pitch, but that doesn’t happen often and shouldn’t také away from his inability to také risks and pass the ball in between the defensive lines and him always passing sideways or to his centre backs, which takes the momentum off any potential attack and basically offers zero threat in creating chances through the middle of the pitch if the opposition is in defensive set-up.

He has had his great moments going forward because he has great anticipation of the ball and scored a lot of goals centrally from a second wave off a rebound, which is a great quality, but he would definitely need to add more goals to his game to be able to bench any of the players who play ahead of him in the higher positions in midfield.

I do think Henderson has qualities and can be a great player if used properly, even for a team like Liverpool under certain circumstances, but I can’t see him being an integral part of a successful team that wants to play a 3 men midfield as he offers very little and also as he is 26, he should be coming into his prime and there should be a much visible improvement over the years, which sadly just isn’t there. I think he has been a great servant to the club, but his lack of winning mentality, skill and overall football ability are simply not good enough for a club Liverpool FC wants to be.

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  1. Sorry mate – I largely disagree with your analysis. Hendo has suffered to a great degree from having mediocrity at various positions elsewhere in the team. It is true he has his strengths and weaknesses, as any player does but a player cannot play to his strengths when others around him contribute significantly to exposing his weaknesses. As you will understand, football is a simple game, often made far too complicated by those who watch it. Hendo is good enough to play in the midfield of most formations, even in a three however, he has to fit with the other two he plays along side. He has to be supported by a decent defence and by a quality attack in order for his strengths to show through. Clearly Klopp agrees or he would be gone by now. Let’s see how he gets on this season. The 13/14 season was probably his best, why is that? Its because he had more quality players around him (particularly upfront) that allowed him to expose his strengths. Hendo is a play maker, the pivot of a carousel if he has the right personnel around him – he is not a defensive midfielder and he is not a number 10 – you can’t compare him to Kante who was without doubt, the best defensive midfielder in the premier league last season.

    • First of all I haven’t compared him to Kante, just showed what a marginal difference there is between a champion level type of midfielder and our very own captain – if we still aspire to be a team worth of winning the championships.

      Second of all saying Henderson is struggling, or that his weaknesses are more visible due to ‘average’ players around him is one of the most ironic things I have ever read in my entire life, he was a utility man, he wasn’t creating, he wasn’t destroying, he was doing the dirty work, the running when we had the luxury of having system where the others complemented everything he wasn’t able to do. He is not a creative type of midfielder, that’s a pure joke from your side – if you want to call it a playmaker.

    • Ross, what are you on about?
      All this to say what?.. That Henderson needs quality players for his strength to show?? On the contrary, your quality should show especially when your teammates are less talented than you are.

  2. you are such an excellent soccer analysis. even if you say like this no change on this .I think maybe Henderson must get injured so they will know that he is not good enough

  3. I couldn’t put it better. At last someone saying things as it is. An average player with stamina but not techique that cannot work under pressure. He cannot deployed as a captain in LFC or other top PL teams (just see the qualities of Gerrard, Terry, Neville, Anri) that can only be used as a bench player in teams that want to qualify in Europe or as at the starting 11 in lesser teams.

  4. i have to disagree with you also,hendo is not surrounded with mediocrity knowing fully well that he is mediocre at best…after his best season in 2013-2014 he played practically with the same front line bar suarez…..i agreed that rodgers system was what brought the best out of him not any obvious individual quality

  5. This is what is called absolute truth. Another major problem we have in the club is that Klopp listens to people like James Pearce who are always backing up and praising Liverpool players who are English. Klopp used Daniel as a sub and they were all saying,”Play him or sell him”. Now he is not using Sakho as he did to Benteke, Allen, e.t.c but they would never say anything to resolve Sakho’s issues with the manager or make Klopp use Lucas, our most experienced DM instead of Hendo. We all know what they said against Flanagan’s loan move. Cara even wanted the error-prone Hart at Liverpool. So, what do you expect where there are such writters?

    • Phil, I don’t think Klopp cares what James Pearce or anyone at the Echo writes.
      But you do state a fact in saying english media overhypes english players, hence all the hype before the Euros 2016 and how we ended with the Iceland embarrassment.

  6. Henderson will continuously be the weak link. He rarely successfully beats an opponent. His composure on the ball is poor. He will always be the weak link.

  7. I agree with the analysis. Jordan is not a great creator or defensive midfielder. He just do simple passing. He is just an ordinary midfield player. I dont think he is good for Liverpool or England. He is no Steven Gerald.

  8. Totally agree on the analysis. Particularly on the point that he often shadow opponents and doesn’t tackle them effectively. He also makes far too many simple, low risk passes with his back line players resulting in poor confidence from his teammates going forward. Brilliant analysis, lets hope Klopp reads this.

  9. Great analysis, but with a caveat; Henderson and Kante are deployed to different effects.Kante doesn’t need to do anything other than recover possession. Henderson plays an integral part in the biuld up of Liverpool’s attacks.My take is Gladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud was primed to take up Henderson’s slot in the team. Marco Grujic will probably do so in due time. In the meantime, too many changes aren’t necessarily a good thing. Henderson is still quite effective despite grave limitations.

  10. Totally agree … I want my captain (or any Liverpool player) to be a success but I don’t see what so many seem too! So many times the move breaks down when Henderson gets it. Harsh as this may sound; he has very little quality but will run all day for you and this isn’t good enough for Liverpool let alone the captaincy. Ineffective low-risk back passes the occasional successful diagonal, terrible in front of goal (more likely to see him shout to the sky than celebrate a goal) and not a big tackler either. So essentially he is great at running around chasing opposing players.

    For me we are more fluid when Lucas mops up in the defensive midfield area and moves the ball forward quickly penetrating the lines to the attacking players who can cause damage.

  11. I couldnt agree more to this analysis. He is the weakest link of the team. As a skipper, he should be driving the team to win all games for a club like Liverpool FC. Take a look at Stevie G’s calibre as a captain. Even at 85mins into an flat game, he is still trying to push the team over the line to get the result. Ultimately, we are still able to come up on top with a win. Right now, when a game is flat, it remains flat. He will still be passing sideways or back to the defense when the game is losing or drawing.

  12. I really like Henderson as a person but he has no business being the captain, or even starting for LFC. In fact I think having the Captain’s band hurts his game as it adds to the pressure. Liverpool is a big club and it needs a bigger player to lead the team. Emory Can may soon be up to the task, maybe even one of the new additions like Matip. Henderson would be serve the club as a squad player that starts in cup games as I just don’t see him as a member of any effective duo or trio. I would take an with any two of Grujic, Winjaldum, Lallana, Lucas, or Milnor over one including Henderson. Perhaps relieving him of the arm band and given time on the bench would relive some pressure and allow his form to return. Until then he will probably be a weak link.

    • To be quite honest, my fellow Red brothers, I think we have already seen the best henderson has to offer back in (2013/14).
      The man’s had ONE above average season (2013/14) in as many as 5-6 yrs at the club.
      Very likeable lad, very professional how he goes about his business but lacks the general quality required. And please, please stop with the heel injury excuses, Henderson himself said this is the best fitness he’s ever felt after Klopp’s preseason regime.
      Me too I sincerely felt Klopp went after Daoud to replace Henderson in the line-up.
      But how do we explain Klopp allowing Henderson to keep the captaincy.

  13. Not to be mean, but this article was really hard to read with all the run-on sentences. You may want to consider spending more time proof reading.

  14. Screams F-Off every time a call goes against Liverpool. Every single time. I don’t see this as passion it looks more like immaturity to me. This is our great communicator with the refs and our player others should look up to for inspiration. Embarrassing…

  15. Rubbish article. If u think Hendo isn’t good enough, then u need to rethink. He’s one of our best midfielders when fit. U always point out things he did wrong and forget the very numerous ones he. does right; even going on to give stupid reasons why they weren’t as a result of. his own brilliance. If He had been d one that missed that Coutinho’s goal vs Spurs, then probably u. would have put a knife on his throat. How many times did u talk about. that. miss?

    U are so biased in your write up, dear editor. Check yourself properly because you are killing our love for this site. Nonsense.

    • You say he’s 1 of our best mids when fit. That is what?.. 1 season (2013/14) maybe 2? Out of what- 5 or 6 season that he’s been a LFC??
      Kyrian, my friend, your very reason for backing/praising the likes of henderson is what got us to be 7th-8th in the league. We’re being programmed to accept mediocrity. Given time, Klopp will inject talent into this squad and I’m afraid our captain isn’t of that caliber. As previously mentioned here, we may have already seen the best henderson has to offer during the Suarez time.
      And I KNOW you’re not comparing Henderson with Coutinho with your little Spurs scenario cuz you & I both know he’s 10x the player henderson is.

  16. I agree my solution and I know he’s only played twice so needs a it more time to prove it long term is Joel matip the way he shouts at players and was pointing around reminding players where they should be this is what you need from a captain although I always think cap should be a defender as they can see whole game but matip has impressed so far

  17. For me the henderson fans should understand That when rodgers was still our manager some were supporting and telling us fans who were tired of mediocrity, off who wanted the man out of the helm of affairs at the club at that time, of knowing nothing about football, ungrateful with a short memory, stating this is the man who almost won us the league.

    The very same people who were sad when rodgers was sacked most importantly carragher(who for me is very bias with is comment mostly as regard british and non-british players) are now happy with the transformation the club experienced before a single player was brought in, and with the player brought in and the majority of British mediocrity moved on, everyone is talking of if we can win the league, not if we can qualify for europa or if lucky get back into top 4, for me that is what world class professional give you not character, they change the mentality and improve everything they touch, most notably how suarez made rodgers and the likes of henderson look a little above good

    Also Our Players in the past who held us to ransome, that have felt is either they play or we have problem have now found out that they are not relevant anymore most notably sturridge, who has held us down with irrelevant stats which today klopp has proved beyond reasonable doubt that such is stat is unimportant if you don’t contribute to the general play of the team

    For me the difference between becoming the all conquering club we were once was and a struggling club trying to qualify for europe year in year out is when the likes of henderson are kept out of our first eleven quick and fast

  18. Totally agree he doesn’t attack opponents from decent positions so they predict his game completely he rarely shoots on target nearly always goes safely sideways or back so loses attack momentum rarely gets good tackles in always first to shout at refs but best of all often urges the player he passed it back to to get it forward i just dont understand why or how he is being rated so highly in virtually any game you puck a player cam of all his contributions would show all these things up and yet somehow captain of liverpool and england ?? Emlyn hughes will be turning in his grave

  19. his goal vs chelsea? last 3 / 4 away games have been clean sheets. He clearly isnt as good as kante, or our previous captain Stevie, but when are we ever going to have a midfielder like Stevie again!! This man attacks / defends / shadows / tackles / shoots / plays in different positions / takes frees & corners….not to mention the way he guides the youngsters, the way he was guided. Liverpool is a very unique club, where players who have been there for a couple of seasons are fans for life (L.Garcia for example), and you can see hendo would do anything for this club. Klopp needs characters, not world class players with egos – he chooses the players that fit his system and if they prove worthy, they start – look at his stats this season – most distance ran / most passes made etc. He is a good fit, in a team where Klopp chooses attitude over class, and hard working players always progress. There are still aspects of his game that need improving, but if one manager can do, its Klopp. We can use Grujic in the future, but Hendo is a servant of the club, a player who we cant just throw under the bus to get a big name, and I cant see klopp doing that!

  20. agree- but don’t accept your guarded praise that he sometimes plays great longer passes. He has not once ounce of creativity. He plays extravagant long passes often and occasionally they come off. This looks good on a highlights package but is detrimental to the team. Possession is 9/10th of the law. His role should be to win the wall and immediately in the quickest time possible offload it to the nearest red shirt. Training of him should focus on that- instead I can only assume by his continual long passes that he is encouraged in his false self understanding of his capacity. The better the level of the team you play against the more important it is to keep it simple and play to your strengths- if you don’t you won’t see the ball again for a long time. The really top players go long when they absolutely have to- think xavi, zidane, messi, iniesta- think of the good stuff they did and its in little spaces. If they choose to do that then a mediocrity like henderson should be disciplined to do that. He is slow on the turn, his touch is average and he is not incisive in the tackle. The best exponent of being incisive in the tackle I can remember is (regrettably) Ince when he was at Man U. Over 2 or 3 yards he was lightning with his tackling. Henderson should be sold to a premiership rival recouping the money we paid and weakening the buyer. With the inflated fees for UK players, that 20 million could buy a superior midfielder from europe who understands and thrives in the defensive midfield position. As it is and as the captain he has now become a problem as Klopp must feel pressure to play him over Can (off form but some potential) or wijnaldum (a superior player). To henderson’s credit his hard work and attitude ( and i guess a good agent?) have allowed him to have a great great career considering how limited his ability is.

  21. Its time to have Henderson dropped from the captaincy to a squad player on the bench or sold off this summer. A very good article highlighting to the details the mediocrity he exhbits

  22. Exactly is what I felt for the weaknesses of Henderson. The sooner he is shipped out, the better it is for Liverpool. However, I really couldn’t understand why Klopp, the previous managers and the England national team keep using him as a starter? It makes me wonder whether this is something good in him that we couldn’t see. However, the fact that Liverpool won a majority of the games in his absence near the end of last season when he was out injured erased any concern of my reservation about his importance to the team.

  23. Agree totally. But I couldn’t understand why Klopp, all the previous managers including managers of England National team keep selecting him as starter for the games. Is there anything good in him that we couldn’t see? However, the fact that Liverpool won a majority of the games when he was out injured near the end of last season erased any concern that I had about his importance for the team.


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