Is Jordan Henderson Liverpool’s Best Candidate For Captaincy?

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Jurgen Klopp previously claimed that “being skipper of Liverpool is the hardest job in world football because the man who had the armband before you is Steven Gerrard.” That premise seems to be ringing true.

In truth, whoever took over from Gerrard was destined to fail in the eyes of Liverpool fans. Perhaps that’s why Henderson is often left to bear the brunt of criticism.

When stacked up against Liverpool captains of old; players like Emlyn Hughes, Graeme Souness or Steven Gerrard, Henderson doesn’t compare. The way Stevie grabbed each game by the scruff of his neck, pulling off last-gasp winners or providing killer balls behind the line of defence was never something Henderson could bring to the role.

None of this is to say that Henderson is a bad player, in fact there are many fans who appreciate his unselfishness and attribute his omission from the final few games of the 13/14 season to Liverpool’s failure to win the title, with Rodgers’ side winning 68% of their games when he was in the side as opposed to 33% without him. Merely, it is a rather frank statement of fact – Henderson is not comparable to the great leaders that have stood before him. 

Yet, it’s hard to think of a more suitable candidate for the armband.

Despite signing for the club in 2013, Simon Mignolet still hasn’t truly established himself as the club’s number one goalkeeper and sometimes struggles to command his own six-yard box let alone the ten players around him.

In defence, Liverpool no longer possesses a Jamie Carragher type of player; someone with born leadership qualities who are vocal on and off the ball. Such is the case in midfield too where Emre Can’s unwillingness to commit his long-term future to the club immediately rules him out of contention, despite being tipped heavily for the role when Klopp first arrived.

James Milner is the most experienced name in the ranks and arguably makes the strongest case for captaincy while none of the ‘Fab Four’ possess the qualities needed to lead. Coutinho, Firmino, Mane and Salah rack up a lot of points for The Reds and are thus integral to Liverpool’s successes, but it takes leaders to win trophies – something unidentifiable in the aforementioned names.

It’s important to note, too, that Liverpool’s rivals are hardly blessed with true leadership figures. Michael Carrick is Manchester United’s captain yet the midfielder is hardly ever seen in Mourinho’s starting eleven, albeit out through injury at present.

Arsenal’s captain is Per Mertesacker. While a hugely experienced player, the German is frequently absent from the team and hardly covers himself in glory when he does feature. Such was the case against Southampton where Dusan Tadic took full advantage of sloppy defensive errors to put Arsenal on the back foot.

Yet, neither Carrick or Mertesacker seem to suffer the degree of scrutiny from their own supporters like Henderson does.

Too often analysed in the shadow of Steven Gerrard, Liverpool fans are quick to jump on the midfielder’s mistakes with ‘I told you so’s’ while sweeping any positive impact he has under the carpet. Jurgen Klopp was spot on when he called it an impossible job, as I’m sure Henderson is finding out.

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  1. No, I disagree. Henderson is one of the three weakest links in our team, along with Moreno and Mignolet. It’s got nothing to do with a comparison with Stevie G or any other previous captains. Henderson just isn’t good enough as a player. Simple as that. He’s barely worthy of being a backup squad player starting from the bench, never mind being the captain. We should get rid of him as soon as Keita arrives.

  2. He is the right man the problem is supporters always expect more but it’s not like that I’m happy with him good play on Sunday

  3. It has nothing to do with Gerrard he brings the critisizum upon himself when we need to score he passes sideways and backwards and when he’s playing no 6 he makes runs like a no 9 he’s not a leader Lallana when fit is a much better captain he leads the team vocally making sure players are in their positions and also leads by example with his performances on the pitch

  4. In reply to John Billett and Ethan:

    I find these criticisms of Henderson tiresom. Have you ever bothered to find some facts to back up your assumptions?
    Henderson provides more key passes per game (1.2) than Can (0.8), Wijnaldum (0.8) or Chamberlain (0.9). Furthermore, his long balls, usually towards the wings, (4.7 per game) provide a different aspect to the midfield as the others are more likely to use short passes. Even though he attempts these long balls his passing accuracy (83%) is almost the same as the other midfielders (around 85%).

    (All stats courtesy of WhoScored).

    Stats don’t always tell the full story, but I’ve noted multiple times this season how Henderson coming onto the field has changed the game positively.

    I’m not saying he’s a world class player or even good enough for this team in the long run. However, accusing him of being the weak link when he actually compares favourably to the other midfielders currently in the squad is simply lazy, biased and unfair. Why aren’t the others being called out the same way? Is it because more is expected of Henderson? Perhaps because he took over not only the position but also the captaincy from a certain legendary player? These are all questions that are valid and should be considered before dishing out unbased criticism of only one player.

  5. I disagree with you Matt. Henderson is not good to be captain he doesn’t fit anywhere in our team. Remember the team we so call Henderson as our captain that’s really terrible.


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