Monday night saw England trounce Bulgaria 6-0 in Sofia. The game was marred by consistent stoppages due to mindless racism from the home supporters. The 3 Lions were consummate professionals as they went about their business with dignity, grace and precision – ripping the hosts apart with slick passing and deadly finishing. After the game, Twitter users criticised Jordan Henderson’s performance…despite England winning 6-0. The Liverpool captain drew flak for his lack of flair and muted attacking intent. This criticism of Jordan Henderson is misguided to say the least, the Reds skipper is crucial to the midfield for both club and country.
Gareth Southgate opted for a midfield 3 of Jordan Henderson, Ross Barkley and Harry Winks against Bulgaria. Winks operated as the deepest lying of the trio, Hendo performed a slightly more advanced shuttling role and Barkley played as an aggressively attacking midfielder.
Chelsea’s Scouser (that’s gross to type out) scored twice for England. He tapped in England’s second after a neat 1-2 between Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling led to the City winger firing the ball across the 6 yard box. Barkley headed in his second goal after a delightful left footed cross from Kane.
Barkley’s goals wouldn’t have been possible without the role that Henderson plays in the side. The Liverpool captain registered a 92% passing accuracy as he quickly recycled possession throughout the game. Bulgaria came undone because of the patience and manner in which England controlled possession, Henderson was crucial to that. By making sure the ball kept moving from flank to flank, he allowed gaps to open up in the opposition. Without his positional discipline, Barkley wouldn’t have been able to play so far forward.
Henderson may not try and ping a 50 yarder or thread a defence splitting through ball whenever he’s in possession but he is crucial to a dominant midfield. He is disciplined, he is efficient, he is accurate – he is everything a modern midfield needs.