Remember when we first signed Jordan Henderson? Liverpool had paid £16 million for a very young player who had not really shown much in the 71 appearances he made for his hometown club.
He had of course shown the energy that we had all come to expect and had some very promising spells of form. He attracted attention from Manchester United for very short periods of time.
So when he joined alongside Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing Liverpool fans did not really know what to expect from him. Unfortunately what we got was not very good. Kenny Dalglish had played him on the right hand side, what Steven Gerrard used to nickname the “graveyard” position.
Henderson, although played out there for Sunderland was clearly not comfortable in that position but Dalglish took no notice of his pleas to play down the middle.
So his performance quality continued to decrease and his confidence had reached a new low. In his first season Henderson was pretty poor overall in his 48 appearances for the Reds and was one of the players on our new managers list to be sold.
Hendersons’ career at Anfield looked all but over when Liverpool had an offer from Fulham on deadline day but in a shocking turn of events Henderson chose to stay and fight for his place at Liverpool. A move that frustrated many fans who were begging for him to be sent away from the club because of his performance levels.
It took a long while for Brendan Rodgers to finally introduce Henderson to the first team but when he did he looked a completely different player. He got his first start away to Swansea in a 0-0 draw and this was a start of his run in the team. Rodgers was incredibly impressed with the attitude of the young man saying it was “incredible”. When he first joined Rodgers said If you have got a player like that who has got the ability and the thirst to learn – he can run all day, he is physically good, he is strong, he is quick – and you can remodel him.”
Remodel him Rodgers did, and what a remodelling job he did. After scoring against Udinese to put Liverpool in the last 32 of the Europa League Henderson was really starting to win some plaudits amongst the Liverpool fans.
Yet it was not until 2013-14 that Hendersons talents were really being recognised by other fans. Henderson was instrumental for Liverpool in their push for the title last season and got himself four goals and seven assists.
Although those statistics are impressive. it is the running that he does for the team that is so essential to us being successful. He covered more ground than any player in the top four teams last season, and Rodgers said himself that Liverpool lost the league because “they just couldn’t replace him”.
If you are ever looking for praise Jordan, that is as high as it gets. Liverpool were a team with top class talents in there but amongst them all Rodgers looked to Henderson as a very important part of his system. He there to help Steven Gerrard out, especially in the latter stages of games. Which is when Liverpool conceded most of their goals in his absence.
He was then called up to the England squad for the summer by Roy Hodgson but as most Liverpool fans still feel he is not being used in the right way at all. Hodgson is restricting his running which is the best part of his game, it is what makes him such a dynamic player.
Back in the Liverpool shirt this season Henderson has already provided three assists and a goal for the team and has been one of the top performers in an otherwise disappointing start to the season.
His performance in the 2-1 win over West Brom on Saturday was a sign of just how far he has come, with a superb back-heel assist for Adam Lallana and a cool finish in front of the Kop earning the Reds a crucial three points.
Anything less than three points on Saturday may well have seen Brendan Rodgers faced with his first real crisis as Liverpool boss, and the way in which Henderson inspired the three points was similar to what we have seen from captain Steven Gerrard so often down the years.
Henderson has been named vice-Captain by Brendan Rodgers after Daniel Agger left the club, as is looking the perfect choice to succeed Gerrard in the next few years. If you are looking for a role model as a young man, look to Henderson. He was going nowhere at Liverpool, but he knuckled down and worked hard to change his game and now he is one of the best players at this great football club. So here’s to you Jordan Henderson!