Jordan Henderson is going to end up being a bigger miss for Liverpool than Steven Gerrard. We thought that was impossible.
Steven Gerrard may be the greatest Liverpool player ever. He’s certainly the best since Kenny Dalglish.
That’s why Jordan Henderson had a near-impossible task with Liverpool as he was in position to replace Gerrard. That’s not a position anyone should have had.
But Henderson was going to take over Gerrard’s position and the captaincy. It brought about comparisons that weren’t fair as the former was never going to be as good as the latter.
And Henderson hasn’t been. He’s been an incredible player for Liverpool but not on Gerrard’s level. Few are.
Yet, as the former Sunderland fan/player moves into his 30s, he’s setting up to leave a far bigger void at the club than Gerrard did. And we thought that was impossible.
Gerrard to Henderson
Gerrard had a strange final few years to his career. Outside of the incredible 13/14 campaign, they were all underwhelming.
Now, he could do little about that as he played in some awful teams. Nothing showed that better than him proving in his final six months that he was still a better goalscorer than the actual strikers at Liverpool.
Henderson, in contrast, will play out his Liverpool career in some sensational teams. That’s a given.
Yet despite not being as good and despite not being the best player at the club, we don’t think Henderson can be replaced as Gerrard could. There’s a simple reason for that – Henderson was there to replace Gerrard.
But it does go deeper.
On the pitch, Liverpool depend on Henderson to an alarming degree. They effectively fall apart when he’s not in midfield.
Here’s a stat for you – Henderson has lost one Premier League game since January 2019 when starting in midfield. And that was the 4-0 defeat to Manchester City when Liverpool had just won the title the day before.
He missed the 3-0 against Watford last season. Henderson was absent for the 7-2 vs Aston Villa in October, too, while he’s either been at centre-half or absent for this awful run of form in 2021.
While Henderson is not the best player at the club as Gerrard often was, he is probably the most important. Liverpool have a habit of falling to pieces without him.
But the 30-year-old’s influence goes beyond that. His efforts this week in wake of the Super League show that.
Everyone at Liverpool was proud with Gerrard as captain and for good reason. He was a kid from the city who become a world-class player, showed loyalty and pushed the club to great heights.
With Henderson, it’s slightly different. He’s essentially everything you want from your captain. He champions social causes, leads the team and brings immense respectability.
Can we replace him?
The hope is that Trent Alexander-Arnold takes over the armband with distinction. That feels like a natural fit.
But it would still leave the question of who replaces Henderson’s role in the team in a few years’ time.
For Gerrard, we were lucky enough to have Henderson ready to fill the void. But there is no obvious next step yet. Henderson may be impossible to replace.