Jordan Henderson doesn’t always play well. He’s had bad games in a Liverpool shirt and some good ones with bad moments. He’s far from a perfect footballer, as capable of infuriating moments as flashes of brilliance. Not one person that loves the former Sunderland man would ever deny any of the above. Yet the problem with conversations around the club captain is that those that dislike him will never admit any of his strengths. It’s almost like a cult, such is the extent to which anything good that he does is brushed under the carpet but anything bad is highlighted as though it’s all he ever does. Performances like the one he produced in the World Club Cup final yesterday never get the recognition that they deserve from his haters. Doubtless one or two of you will read this piece and disagree with every word of it, simply because it’s about the midfielder. It’s so very odd that I don’t think that I’ll ever understand it.
Jordan Henderson will forever be the first Liverpool captain, as well as first captain of any English club, that lifted the
•Uefa Champions League,
•Uefa Super Cup and
•Fifa Club World Cup
in the same year.
Put some respect on his name.
— KloppSZN🧣 (@KIopptinho) December 21, 2019
The good thing, though, is that I don’t need to. In the last seven months, Jordan Henderson has lifted the European Cup, the Super Cup and the Club World Cup. Opposition fans will try to dismiss the achievement, but you don’t even get to play in the latter two competitions without having won the former, so Everton, Manchester City and other such fans are unlikely to need to concern themselves with worrying about it for a while. When the Liverpool captain looks back on his career and the trophies he’s won, he won’t be bothered what some weirdos on Twitter think about him. He’ll look at the medals he’s collected along the way, see the respect shown to him by the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Steven Gerrard and Jürgen Klopp, amongst others, and know exactly how good a player he was. The people who have such a visceral dislike of him are missing out on the opportunity to enjoy what he’s offering the side, which strikes me as a real shame.
He’s Not Our Best Player
Say virtually anything positive about Jordan Henderson and someone will come back at you with a list of faults. It’s such an odd approach for the simple reason that they don’t do the same thing with other players. When Virgil van Dijk has a great game but misplaces a couple of passes, no one replies to people saying he was excellent with videos of the passes that went astray. It’s almost as though in saying that the captain played well, you’re somehow suggesting that he’s the best player the club has ever had. He’s not. No one in their right mind would claim that he is. He’s not even the best player in the current squad. There’s an argument he’s not even our best midfielder. He also doesn’t need to be. The reason he’s picked pretty much whenever he’s fit and available is that he does the jobs that the manager asks him to. It’s unsexy and his haters will never appreciate it, but the people that matter most certainly do.
Roberto Firmino got the man of the match for the final, Mohamed Salah the man of the tournament.
But really both awards should have gone to this guy.
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) December 22, 2019
The comparison to Steven Gerrard that some are making is flawed. If Steven Gerrard had played with this squad then he’d have won everything there is to win in world football. There’s nothing wrong with saying as much. Yet the comparison isn’t made to suggest that Henderson is better than our former number eight, but that he at least deserves to be spoken about in the same breath as him because of what he’s won. It’s also worth noting that he hasn’t won these trophies in the same way that Andy Lonergan has a Super Cup and Club World Cup to his name. He’s been an integral part of the winning of them, facilitating the more creative players in the side by running, running and running whilst also making some brilliant passes. He knows his place in Jürgen Klopp’s team and is happy to do whatever he needs to do in order to win Liverpool as many trophies as possible. That’s what a captain does.
He’s A Brilliant Captain
Put a poll on social media asking who Liverpool’s captain should be and Virgil van Dijk would almost certainly be the comfortable winner. For me, the main reason for that is that people don’t understand what the job of a captain is. If someone needs to wear the armband in order to bark instructions at their teammates, confront the referee over decisions and be a leader then they probably don’t deserve to be captain. Being a club captain is about so much more than what takes place on the pitch and what takes place on the pitch is largely ceremonial. A captain’s job is about welcoming new players to the club, representing his teammates and taking on whatever needs to be taken on in order to ensure that their lives are as easy as possible. @MassiveRed1892 might not think he’s a good captain, but van Dijk does.
I’ve criticised Henderson in the past, but he’s stepped up significantly in Fabinho’s absence. More ambitious and brave with his passing, whilst showing greater awareness and control. I didn’t think he could develop as a player at this stage of his career, but he has 👏
— Rory Greenfield (@RoryGreenfield) December 22, 2019
Thinking that Jordan Henderson isn’t the best player that Liverpool have ever had is fine. Anyone sensible would almost certainly agree with you. Thinking he’s a poor captain seems to completely misunderstand what the role of a captain is. You don’t get to be an integral part of a team that wins the European Cup and notches up ninety-seven points by being average. You get to do it by being vital. Henderson can improve some parts of his game but he’s trying to do exactly that. The people that hate him unreservedly will never admit that or acknowledge it. But the captain will have the last laugh. Right now, Liverpool are odds on favourites to win the Premier League. There’s no guarantee that it will happen, of course, such is the nature of football. Yet if he ends up lifting the holy grail for the club and its supporters then it will be another winners’ medal he’ll be able to look back on and know that he was a vital part of achieving it.
That’s what proper captains do.