What a roller coaster ride Jordan Henderson’s Liverpool career has been. He is currently having a great season in which he has once again answered his critics and has shown just why Klopp has trusted him in this new number six role. Fans have finally started to once again appreciate Henderson after an injury prone 2015/16 season.
But proving his critics wrong isn’t something Henderson is new to, it’s actually something he does quite often. After signing for the Reds in the summer of 2011 for £16 million Henderson didn’t really set the league a light and was nearly shipped off to Fulham for American striker Clint Dempsey in 2012, just a year after joining Liverpool. The move fell through and Henderson was set to prove then manager Brendan Rodgers wrong.
That’s actually what he did as that same season Henderson netted five goals and created four more. But the next season was when he truly blossomed as Liverpool finished the season in second with Henderson being an integral part in the team. His red card against Manchester City is seen as one of the main reasons why Liverpool didn’t go on to win the league, which just shows how important he was to the team.
2014/15 saw Henderson handed the vice-captaincy after Daniel Agger’s departure. Getting many games to practice being Liverpool captain because of Gerrard’s lack of game time in his final season, Henderson looked set and ready to replace the Liverpool great as Anfield’s new leader. But his first season as permanent Liverpool captain didn’t go to plan.
Picking up a serious heel injury that still plagues him to this day early in the season, Henderson spent almost half of the season on the sidelines. During that time Klopp came in and got the squad playing his brand of football. So with a niggling injury, a new system to adapt to and replacing one of the all-time greats as captain, it was clear that Henderson was going to have a rough year. This caused the media and fans to determine that Henderson was a bad player, average and not suited to captain or even play for a big club like Liverpool.
Fast forward a year, Henderson is one of Liverpool’s most important players. When taken out of the side the team lose its control in midfield, he transitions from defence to attack, he’s the engine that keeps the team ticking and most importantly, the thing he was criticised for the most, his leadership.
This season Henderson has completed the most successful passes in the league (1713) with an average 72.86 per 90 mins, which is also the best in the league. He has settled amazingly in the “quarterback” role Gerrard occupied in his last few seasons, a role no other player in the squad can fill. Whether Henderson can stay fit or not will be huge in Liverpool’s quest for Champions League football.
Taking over as captain has placed Henderson with the impossible task of being compared to Gerrard, Liverpool’s greatest ever player, the likes of which we will never see again, so considering everything that has happened in Henderson’s Liverpool career I would say he has truly silenced his critics and he isn’t done just yet.