How has Liverpool's Jordan Henderson become vital for both club and country?
This past week marked a year since Jurgen Klopp took charge of Liverpool. He has improved this side vastly in the short time he’s been at the helm, picking up some eye-catching results and getting everyone talking about his trademark high pressing game. But, arguably his best accomplishment in his time at Anfield has been to reinvigorate club captain Jordan Henderson.
He doesn’t come across as the motivational skipper that Steven Gerrard was, leading by example week after week. Yet, Henderson is clearly highly thought of by the German and has started every game so far this campaign. He has delivered in big games this season for the Reds, controlling at The Emirates as they blitzed Arsenal, comfortable in their stalemate at Spurs then pulled out the Goal of the Season so far at Stamford Bridge when they dominated Chelsea.
He is the anchor to Liverpool’s attacking fleet and has a lot of responsibility and importance to making Liverpool tick and allowing Klopp’s tactics to work. For the likes of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge to free roam around the opponents’ penalty box, Henderson must lie deep and pick up the pieces as teams try to counter attack.
Compared to the title winning midfield general of Leicester City N’Golo Kante, now at Chelsea, Henderson has won more tackles, duels and created far more chances than the Frenchman. Whilst Kante has struggled to adapt to life in West London, the Sunderland born box-to-box player is excelling and is now as vital to England as he is Liverpool.
Amidst the chaos that has become the England national team set-up, Henderson flourished in Gareth Southgate’s debut as interim manager with two assists in their 2-0 victory over Malta. Alongside Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli, he was the lynchpin, as he is at Liverpool, but was still able to make a driving run to set up Alli and delivered an inch-perfect cross for Sturridge’s header.
As the long-running saga of where Rooney fits into the England team will carry on, Henderson is going to be one of the first names on the team sheet and that’s down to the effect of Klopp. He has matured as a player and recognises his value to club and now country after an ineffective Euros. Add in Southgate’s nurturing of Henderson in the England U21s for a spell, there aren’t many who know him better than the interim Three Lions boss does and how to get the best out of him.
He may only be finding his feet at Liverpool truly this season, but he is already an experienced player who has not even reached his peak. He won’t ever be regarded in the same breath as club legend Gerrard or have the class of Xabi Alonso, but for years to come Henderson can be a key man in Klopp’s revolution of Merseyside and become a respected pro at one of England’s finest clubs.
England need the players to take charge at this moment in time with no clear sign of who will be in long-term charge of the Three Lions. Henderson, as captain of Liverpool will be integral to this along with the experience of Rooney, Gary Cahill and Joe Hart. Not forgetting, once Rooney supposedly retires from the national team after the 2018 World Cup, it could be Henderson who takes over as national captain?
A title charge might be on the cards for Liverpool and if they are to go far, it will involve a consistent and dependable Jordan Henderson continuing to lead with performances under Jurgen Klopp’s tuition. This will only make him better and surely make England better for it too.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by LFC Season 2015-2016
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