Paul Spillane expects Jordan Henderson to return to his bustling best.
On the 9th of June 2011, Liverpool completed a deal to sign Sunderland midfielder Jordan Henderson for an undisclosed fee. I myself was skeptical of the deal, wondering how this young prospect would fair in transitioning to one of the country’s greatest clubs. 5 years have passed yet some fans continue to be divided on whether or not Henderson can truly shine at Liverpool.
The pressure has been on his shoulders since day one, taking the number 14 shirt (worn before by fans favourite Xabi Alonso.) In time, however, the fans began to appreciate his high tempo game, full of boundless energy and rugged determination.
Henderson’s finest hour arguably came in the 2013/14 season. Acting as part of a midfield diamond in a team surrounded by some of the league’s finest talents, Henderson stepped up his game in accordance with those around him.
With the attacking prowess of Suarez and Sturridge, along with a string of impressive performances from the midfield, we came so close to that elusive Premier League trophy. Dare I even state how costly Henderson’s red card was in the dying minutes against Manchester City, resulting in missing the rest of the season and possibly costing us the league?
All in all, despite the heartache, there was plenty to be optimistic about heading into the 2014/15 campaign regarding our number 14.
Fans continued to see purposeful performances from Henderson throughout the 2014/15 season, most notably that strike which helped us earn a win in a pulsating encounter with Manchester City at Anfield.
Henderson led the team relatively well in the captain’s absence and subsequently took over the captain’s armband following in the footsteps of one Steven Gerrard. The scouser was the beating heart of the Liverpool team throughout his time at the club, thus when the decision to name Henderson as his successor was announced, fans expectations were only heightened further.
Disappointing would be an understatement of how I felt about Henderson’s season last time out. There were signs of his usual athletic and hard-working persona, but his game was hugely limited by injury.
Injury to our key players has become a regular occurrence in more recent times (some fans have even given us the name ‘Injurypool’ as a result!) but this was far from any normal discomfort for our captain.
An irregular heel injury developed resulting in a frustrating time on the sidelines. The heel problem suffered was plantar fasciitis, which affects a ligament on the sole of the foot. There was a time when he was playing through the pain; perhaps another sign of just how focused and determined he was. However, with the now pain seemingly under control, Henderson has the opportunity this season to silence his critics and find his best form again.
It has been a tough ride for consistency in the team’s performance as a whole, but for Henderson personally, this particularly rings true. If some fans are still undecided on whether he has the qualities to be the leader of Liverpool, all I ask is they look to recent performances to see the improvement.
Henderson has had more touches (469) and has completed more passes (388) than anyone else in the league so far this season. The quick passing and general link up play between Henderson and his teammates has been an integral tool in explaining our strong start to the campaign.
With Emre Can returning to the fold, the German may have a job in expelling Henderson from the central midfield berth. He has seemingly solidified his spot in the first team again, most recently following a commendable showing at home to Leicester and, of course, his standout display against Chelsea last Friday.
Is our captain back to his best? I for one am hoping for great things from the team this season and if recent performances are anything to go by, we might just be witnessing a resurgence in the form of our skipper. We all know by now how Klopp wishes to turn the fans from “doubters to believers”. I am backing Henderson to prove the doubters wrong, and lead Liverpool to greatness once more.
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