He has orchestrated play during the Wigan game, scored a winner against Udinese, and despite carrying a flu virus, finished just behind Luis Suarez as Liverpool’s best player against Queen’s Park Rangers. He is looking the part alongside Steven Gerrard and starting to impose his imprint on the team.
I’m talking about Jordan Henderson, who some still see as an expensive flop. Others will stick their heads above the parapet now (just like they did with Lucas) and acknowledge that the England U21 captain has been one of the elite performing Liverpool players this season.
Liverpool shelled out a lot of dough for a calibre of player that they could have bought for 50 percentiles on the continent, and a good comparison would be Newcastle United’s acquisition of Yohan Cabaye.
After completing his purchase Kenny Dalglish said in June 2012: "Jordan is very mature for his age. He is respectful and his principles and everything else on and off the pitch are exemplary. Not only is he a talented footballer, he's a really good person as well. He loves his football and he is very appreciative of what Sunderland have done for him." I agreed with King Kenny then and I still do.
Made a scapegoat for failure to reach the Champions League and Dalglish's so called big money transfer failures, a sceptical Brendan Rodgers splashed out £15 million on Joe Allen and bringing in Nuri Sahin on loan from Real Madrid. Added to this Henderson was taken out of his preferred central berth and played out of position on the right wing. The exit door glowed brighter for the ex-Sunderland star. Liverpool said he could leave.
It irritated me that he was used as bargaining fodder for Clint Dempsey, a player I have always liked but as a fan felt was not right for a team like Liverpool. Despite the hurt Henderson has responded in the best possible way. He’s been first on the training ground, last to leave and kept his head down, worked his socks off and is acclimatising rapidly to Rodgers' game style.
This year we have seen a much improved machine. Henderson’s pressing and work rate, coupled with his accuracy in short and long offensive passes have been outstanding features of his play this season. Keeping the game moving whilst constantly being on the go has made him an important component in his manager’s style of play.
Henderson's form has improved enough to edge him ahead of Joe Allen, whilst Nuri Sahin has left. Hard work is reaping dividends and he’s just picked up the England U21 Player of The Year Award.
As a fan I’m happy to report that I always had faith that Henderson was a confidence player who would come good. I was ridiculed by quite a few fellow supporters. And that has been evident as he struck a wonder volley against Norwich, scored and had an excellent all action showing at the Emirates and had the cheek and presence of mind to almost beat Ben Foster with a backheel during Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion smash and grab at Anfield.
The important thing is that he hasn’t complained at being played out of his natural position and this has somewhat endeared him to the fans. Henderson was unwell against QPR but still managed to put in an excellent performance. He’s disciplined, doesn’t drink and takes his role as a club ambassador very seriously.
If the resurrected Henderson can add goals then he has the potential to force himself into the top bracket of Premier League midfielders. He may never be the star attraction but he has the ability, willingness to learn and improve and temperament to become a longstanding Red - our very own Pablo Zabaleta, capable of slotting into a variety of decent positions and consistently churning out seven out of 10 performances.
Having said that, I do believe that the hard work will reap benefits and he will flourish into more of a complete player. He is still only 22 and if he continues his development then a long career at Anfield beckons.
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