Social media can be a strange place. In the wake of Liverpool being crowned champions, some fans have used this as a point-scoring opportunity. They’re trawling back through the years to find tweets calling for FSG to sell up. They’ve found plenty of tweets criticising players as well. There are probably even some who have said a bad word or two against Jurgen Klopp. However, the popular topic for this seems to be Jordan Henderson.
The Liverpool skipper has always had a bit of a bullseye on his back. Brendan Rodgers wanted rid of him during his first window as manager. The fact he isn’t Steven Gerrard went against him for a period of time, too. The Reds were in transition and for the longest time, it was Gerrard who would give them brief moments of solace. He’d give us hope. Henderson isn’t the same sort of captain, and this was perceived as a negative.
He was also criticised for his performances as the deepest midfielder. I was dead against it and you’ll find countless articles written by me saying he shouldn’t be playing there. I, apparently, had an agenda against Liverpool’s No.14, despite the fact I was a big advocate of his as a box-to-box midfielder.
The criticisms levelled at Henderson three or four years ago were fair, though. Using those tweets now as a stick to beat fans with is, well, just a bit odd. For example, Liverpool weren’t winning trophies in 2016/17. They weren’t competing for the title and defensively they weren’t great either. You can’t lay all of that at the door of Henderson but you also can’t discount him when you’re bringing up these facts. Liverpool had a soft core and he was part of it. It’s also foolish and naive to ignore the monumental changes that have occurred at Anfield over recent years to get Liverpool where they are today.
The Reds spent £170million reinforcing the backbone of their team. Virgil van Dijk, Alisson Becker and Fabinho arrived. The latter was brought in to sit in front of the defence and this allowed Henderson to return to the position he bossed during the 2013/14 title challenge. Liverpool added those players and went on to win the Champions League, rack up 97 points in the Premier League before going on to end their 30-year drought.
But, in defence of Henderson, he’s been instrumental in the team’s dominant two-year period. Away from the pitch, he’s a leader and the perfect example of a Liverpool captain. On it, his performances have been taken up a level or two. He might not have the goals of Mohamed Salah or the highlight reel of Van Dijk but the skipper played his part and he deserves the status he now has.
So, those who doubted Henderson can, and will, point to Liverpool only winning trophies after the arrival of Fabinho. Those who have always been pro-Henderson will, rightly, say he’s captained the team to four of the biggest trophies in the past 12 months, so he can’t be that bad.
But, ultimately, it’s all so pointless. Both sides of the fence can claim to be right and neither will admit to being wrong. It’s a vicious cycle and it creates a toxic environment. So why are people doing it when we’ve just won our first title in 30 years? Enjoy it. You don’t know when it’ll happen again.