Since Brendan Rodgers’ appointment at Liverpool, he has faced a number of difficult challenges. With a poor, aging squad at his disposal to begin with, his first major job was to discard as much of the deadwood inherited by old managers as possible, and replace accordingly.
The likes of Alberto Aquilani, Joe Cole and Andy Carroll who were left to him by Benitez, Hodgson and Dalglish respectively were soon out the door as they had no place in the squad. Amongst the possible exodus was a young Jordan Henderson, who was regarded as yet another “overpriced English player” who had no talent and no potential, by many of the (uneducated) rival supporters.
Unlike other underachieving players, Jordan Henderson had something different going for him; the desire to succeed.
From the moment he rejected Fulham’s proposal of a cash-plus-himself deal for Clint Dempsey to join Liverpool, he was taken under the wing of Brendan Rodgers and is now preparing for his best flight yet in the coming season.
Henderson’s transformation from a “waste of money” to Liverpool’s top appearing midfielder has been vital to the continuation of Steven Gerrard’s presence in Liverpool’s starting lineup. Whilst Gerrard undoubtedly still possesses the qualities of a world class midfield player, he no longer has the energy to maintain the rampaging, 200 yard double-runs from attack to defence and back again, that he’s been so famous for over the last decade (and then some). Henderson’s superb athleticism allows him to replace the energy which Steven Gerrard can no longer provide in the centre of the midfield, meaning Stevie is free to sit in between his centre backs and control the game’s tempo with his passing, rather than his dynamism.
Not only has Henderson replaced Gerrard’s work rate in that box-to-box role, he’s growing into the kind of player who is capable of replicating Gerrard’s quality. Now don’t get me wrong, no disrespect to Jordan, but i don’t think he’ll ever grow to the point where he’s considered on a par with Steven’s quality. However, he certainly has the work rate, desire, and potential to develop himself into an efficient, goal scoring midfielder with equally effective defensive qualities.
In the future, when Gerrard hangs up his boots – and yes, believe it or not fellow Liverpool fans, it will happen – i believe we may begin to see the best of Liverpool’s midfield. Thinking back to last year when the Reds played ‘Spurs away, we were so fluent, sharp, and balanced that it looked the best side we’d seen in a long time (and that side had Glen Johnson in it!). On a serious note, we were balanced; having a standout defensive midfielder (Lucas), someone to control the tempo (Allen), and a box to box workhorse in Henderson. Specialists in each of their respective games, this midfield trio provided freedom and support to a confident attack and allow for the creative football we’ve grown used to.
If Jordan continues his development at the rate he is, then he will be undeniably vital to Liverpool’s success. If he can add a killer instinct, as well as further consistency to his game, then he will effectively go down as Gerrard’s “replacement”, man for man. Brendan Rodgers says himself how vital Henderson is to the current midfield, having told a reporter on the last day of the season “I knew [the title was gone] when Jordan got sent off against Man City. I knew i couldn’t replace him”.
I think on a whole, Henderson will become – if he isn’t already considered by others as he is by me – a vital part to the midfield in everyone’s eyes. Most of the country has woken up and noticed his impressive development, as well as his exceptional energy which covers over the faults of others regularly in both Liverpool and England games.
The key to Liverpool’s success however, will be finding the correct balance to the midfield. Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen and Emre Can look to have years ahead of them in the squad, however Lucas seems like he may be off and Gerrard cannot go forever. Once these two leave, Rodgers will need to make sure he has someone even more capable to sit in between the two centre backs, a real tackler and distributor of the highest quality. Someone who exhibits the same talents as the likes of City’s Fernando or Fernandinho will be significantly important once Gerrard is unable to play week in, week out.
Having found two seemingly very talented full backs in Manquillo and Moreno, as well as now owning two of the Prem’s most talented centre backs in Lovren and Sakho, the team should be much tighter at the back. For Rodgers’ system to work most efficiently though, i believe the ever sought after defensive midfielder will be the key to the rest of the team’s balance and success. It would provide freedom in attack, slotting in to make a back three with the two other centre backs, allowing the wing backs to play higher up, the other two midfielders to control the game, which in turn allows the attacking trio the freedom needed to interchange positions and play as we have done so successfully over the past year particularly.
Is Jordan Henderson the key to Liverpool’s future success? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below or on Twitter @TBRFootball.
Andrew Robertson the most important Liverpool summer signing
The Scottish left-back has plugged a gap that has existed at Liverpool for some time.
Mohamed Salah rightly received all the praise yesterday, after Liverpool put Watford to the sword in the Premier League.
Liverpool beat the Hornets 5-0 at Anfield, with the Egyptian scoring four of the goals.
It is hard to argue with Salah being the club’s best signing in the summer. His tally of 37 goals in 43 games certainly highlights that fact.
However, the most important signing might have been that of Andrew Robertson.
The Scottish left-back joined from Hull City in a deal, reported by the Independent, to be worth around £8 million. That price-tag is now looking an absolute bargain.
Liverpool have had problems at left-back for a number of seasons.
Alberto Moreno looked like being the solution. However, the Spaniard’s defensive work and decision making made him a liability.
Jon Flanagan, who was Brendan Rodgers’ regular left-back, has not reached similar heights since a series of knee injuries decimated his promising career.
Last season saw James Milner fill the role. The experienced midfielder played well out of position but long-term, was not the solution.
Now, Liverpool have Robertson. The Scotland international has made the step up from his time at Hull with ease.
The 24-year-old Glaswegian is not only a threat going forward, but defensively he is exceptional.
His delivery into the box is undoubtedly exemplary, but he is equally adept at stopping opposing players from getting near Liverpool’s.
Liverpool have managed to bring in a player perfectly suited to Jurgen Klopp’s style of play.
Heavy-metal is the way Robertson plays in both attack and defence and the fans at Anfield already love him.
At just £8 million and only 24-years-old Liverpool picked up the bargain of the summer in the Premier League.
If Robertson can continue to progress and play with the same level of consistency he already has, then a decade of dominance at left-back could follow as Liverpool’s left-back.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah within touching distance of all-time Premier League goal-scoring record
The Egyptian international has 28 Premier League goals this term.
Anfield witnessed a truly special moment in the second half of Liverpool’s 5-0 thrashing of Watford on Saturday. Winning 3-0, Liverpool were running riot in wintry conditions, and Mohamed Salah collected the ball just inside the box on a hat-trick.
What followed was absolute magic, emblematic of a dream debut season in the north-west for the Egyptian. Salah was mobbed by three defenders, but left all three in the dust with one deft cut-back.
Then, with two more Watford players crashing in on the ball, Salah remarkably managed to poke an improvised finish into the far corner past the helpless Orestis Karnezis.
As Salah wheeled away in celebration, tongue stuck out and arms extended, Anfield reveled in history in the making. That goal marked Salah’s 27th of the Premier League season and he would go on to score his 28th just eight minutes later.
The Egyptian is on course to smash the Premier League scoring records in emphatic fashion. The current record is 31 goals, a tally achieved by Alan Shearer in 1995/96, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2007/08, and fellow Red Luis Suarez in 2013/14.
With seven matches remaining, including fixtures against the likes of West Brom and Stoke, few would bet against Salah demolishing the 22-year-old record.
The achievement would place Salah in the illustrious company of Premier League legends, an incredible feat for a player who many in England wrote off during his short spell at Chelsea.
Thanks to Salah, Liverpool have barely missed a step after the departure of Philippe Coutinho in January, advancing to the Champions League quarterfinals and cementing their top-four position.
The prolific winger is proving all of his doubters wrong in audacious fashion, and with a Premier League Golden Boot and goal-scoring record seemingly on the way, he is one of the most in-form players in the world.
The early-April European clash with Manchester City will provide Salah with, perhaps, his biggest stage yet. Expect the top goalscorer in England to rise to the occasion.
Jugen Klopp wanted him in 2016, Filip Kostic set for cut-price exit
The Serbian is set to be relegated with Hamburg.
In the summer of 2016 Liverpool were being linked with the signature of Serbian winger Filip Kostic. The Independent reported that Liverpool, and Tottenham Hotspur, had both watched the player, but had missed out. Hamburg instead signed Kostic from Bundesliga rivals Stuttgart for £12 million.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp would have known all about Kostic through his Bundesliga links and seeing him move elsewhere would have been frustrating. But, nearly two years on from Kostic’s Hamburg move, Liverpool may feel they dodged a bullet.
This summer, if Liverpool still wanted Kostic, they could get him cheap. The reason why? His performances have not lived up to his ability since the Hamburg move. Now, the Bundesliga side look doomed to relegation. The result will be a firesale in the summer, as HSV look to meet financial demands. Kostic, being one of the most valuable players and highest-earners at the club, will be available.
Based on his form for Hamburg, Liverpool would be unlikely to take an interest in the player.
But, rather than dodging a bullet, perhaps this situation could work out perfectly for Klopp and Liverpool.
Whilst Kostic has had a rough time at Hamburg, a lot of that is down to the running of the club.
For the Serbian national team the 25-year-old has still been in good form and Liverpool might just be able to bring Kostic in at a cut-price.
With the World Cup coming up this summer, Kostic will look to shine. A deal for Liverpool before then may prove to be a masterstroke.
Liverpool can look at Kostic in two ways. One, a transfer failure they should be happy with. Two, an opportunity for a bargain this summer.
Either way Klopp and Liverpool cannot really lose.
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