Henderson, The Great Divider

April 8, 2012 · by Grubb · Analysis

Jordan Henderson. Two words guaranteed to trigger debate among Liverpool fans across the planet. Is he good? Is he crap? Does he have the guts? Is he a top talent? Did we waste money on him? How does he fit? Who does he have to kill to get a central midfield berth? I’ve heard all of these questions and more. So. Much. More.

After our dodgy Villa draw yesterday, Henderson dominated the post-match debate once again. With 67 passes at 85% accuracy, 17/19 accurate long passes, 2 intercepts and the only player with the hustle to get back to assist Jamie Carragher in defending a late 4-on-2, Hendo’s numbers were strong. And so, I thought, was his performance.

However the knives were out in force (as were the idiots wielding them) post-match, with many suggesting his 2 missed shots were indicative of Henderson’s lack of quality. What, then, do we make of Steven Gerrard? 5 shots from the Captain, yet only 1 was on target. Where was the criticism for him?

Considering Henderson’s role in that midfield was to recycle possession and re-direct traffic, it’s hard to accept the charge that “he only passes it backwards and sideways.” That’s his job! And besides, isn’t this what was said about Lucas Leiva? How did that turn out?

We’ve trodden this path before, but it seems the “insta-fans” have learned nothing. Players improve rapidly at age 23/24, and generally hit their peak in their late 20s. At only 21 years old, Henderson is very good, with the potential to become exceptional. Will we be patient enough to see it? Or will we break him with unrealistic expectations and pre-conceived biases against his every move? Already Anfield groans whenever he loses the ball – a hypocrisy not afforded to Kuyt or Suarez, players who surrender possession far more regularly.

Judge for yourself. I defy anyone to analyse this video and name up exactly how he is “crap”, or “not LFC quality”. And if you do, make sure your criticisms are relevant to his role in the team, or you’ll embarrass yourself.


Video by outstanding Red, @MostarLFC

-Grubb-
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  • Grubb

    Just want to make clear, the “idiots” I’m referring to are the people that say inherently stupid things. Disliking Henderson does not make one an idiot. I’m all for sensible debate and discussion, and value others’ opinions.

    Just don’t be a tool.

  • rubyrm

    Still a waste of 20mil. Average stuff,  Pick any midfielder from the reserve team(Ladies included) and they will probably give a better display. Not an  impressive article.

  • rubyrm

    Still a waste of 20mil. Average stuff,  Pick any midfielder from the reserve team(Ladies included) and they will probably give a better display. Not an  impressive article.

  • Grubb

    Not an impressive response either. “any midfielder from the reserve team” – you just gave yourself away.

  • rubyrm

    What is there to dislike a player. It is all about performance on the pitch. Criticism from all quarters is imminent , if one player does not deliver. Given the obscene wages the club pays. We want every player in the RED to perform. Performance leads to results. When results are achieved Everybody is happy.

  • Ken

    he is young what i cant get my head around is 50/50 in the air or on the floor he never goes in for them his bottle goes every time,i except he will get better but how do u give someone bottle he reminds me of one of the kids in school who would do anythink not to get hurt.

  • SuaRed

     I’ve been saying this for ages! Henderson is a very good player and at 21
    it’s ridiculous to judge him now. We bought this kid for the future! £14m (not
    £20m) yes but in a season or so I feel all the doubter (the same doubters who criticized
    Lucas at a young age and are now moaning about his loss) will in 18 months be
    singing his praises and pick on somebody else! Because that’s what they do!
    Know it all but actually know nothing!

     

    Henderson
    is what I call a continuity player! A player who’s role is to consistently pass
    the ball and yesterday as the statistics show that’s what he done. 85% passer rating,
    we still criticize him! He’s become the whipping boy of this regime. Kuyt couldn’t
    hit an elephant’s backside with a banjo, his passing was all over the place he’s
    done at Liverpool but still we attack the whipping boy Henderson.  

  • Strazzaque

    The disappointment stems from a combo of price tag and player. At 16-20 million, we don’t have the luxury of buying potential. Sterling, Suso et al are our potential. The amount spent should have gotten us a finished article, English or otherwise. It hasn’t.

    Additionally, Hendo is a milquetoast player, who himself has admitted to playing it too safe this season. Ultimately, the club has to stick by him for at least another season in the hope he develops. Jury’s out on that one.

  • Zincalo

    All along he’s showing great potential .keep going son ;-)

  • Xballerz

    totally agree, man.
    i think Hendo is a talented player.
    His passing abilty has been so adorable.

    But one thing that always make him looks kinda cr*p (that’s the way the Insta-fans say about his performance) is “Being Placed not on his natural Position”.

  • red33

    Accuracy of 85% my a*^#,do you pay 20 mil for side back passing?? I don’t think so,every footballer know the basic pass,look at those rating on player.com or others,The midfield of these fab 4 that kenny brought in just doesn’t work,do you see any creativity,splitting pass,technic,dribbling and creating space for himself or others??try compare him with others that worth 20 mils GRUBB and see where liverpool are atm because of midfield failure.

  • red33

    BTW GRUBB,if that’s what you call good player i relly doubt your vision,either you’re a fan of this player or relative other than that you are not a liverpool fan just fan of players maybe 

  • SuaRed

    Oh and another thing! It’s a sad day when Kuyt, Downing and Carragher players in or past their prime can get away with performances like that!

    WE HAVE BEEN SHIPPING GOALS SINCE AGGER WAS INJURED IN THE CARLING CUP AND CARRAGHER CAME IN!!! Just like we where at the biggining of the season before Carragher was replaced by Agger. Weve had to move Skertel (who up till then was having a player of the season level of performance) to the right to cater for him in the side! We should be playing Coates while Agger was out.

    Kuyt is poor FULL STOP and the rumours of him leaving in the summer are about right! His time is up. Downing for me the worst of Dalglish’s signings! No goals an no assists in 31 PL games is unforgivable! He’s a full international. Even Henderson has a goal and a couple of assists predomionently playing out of position! 

    Henderson was responsible for creating 82 goalscoring opportunities for his Sunderland team-mates in 2010-11 – 39 more than any of his team-mates and the
    fourth best total in the Premier League.

    Good young player just let him settle.

  • Dared3vil6

    even i can have a 100% passing rate if i play too safe..henderson is not the only one to blame for liverpool’s poor season..we as a team are not showing enough attacking power..we r not ruthless enough to finish off opponents..and it is down  to the manager to change the teams mentality to an attacking one..when liverpool attacks the ball, they look like the best team on the planet..but we have been too defensive in our play and that is the reason we have one of the best defensive record in PL but infront of the goal we r just plain shit..
    as for henderson, he has potential but he is not the finished article for the starting 11..if i was the liverpool manager i would throw him in the reserve team to get his confidence level up and gain more experience and play him in different positions to find out his greatest strengths..

  • SuaRed

    Strange that when he plays in his proper position of centre mid his accuracy is a lot better. Red33 if you can’t see the quality the boy has got (2 footed, good passer, great engine and appetite) then you know NOTHING about football!

    However youre right about the balance of the midfield expecially out wide! Downing is a bust.

  • Lfctalk

    Just look at how short, safe and simple his passes are.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ED24YJMZ7CIOVBANB7LTYCKB5M Jay

    I’d been calling for Henderson to be deployed in the more withdrawn role, seeing as the guy clearly isn’t ready to assume the role of being a creative force for the team. Tbh, I think the change worked pretty well, and Henderson spread the ball about well enough, but watching live I still felt that Shelvey was having a better game and can’t figure out why Dalglish took him off.

    Overall though, I agree Strazzaque – people can say that we should ignore price tags as much as they want, but the simple fact is that this guy was brought in at great expense in the same position that Aquilani and Meireles already played. If we wanted to wait 2-3 years for a CM to come good, we could’ve just stuck Shelvey/Suso/Coady in there and had that money to spend on matchwinners elsewhere instead.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ED24YJMZ7CIOVBANB7LTYCKB5M Jay

    Kuyt never gets any criticism. As soon as he misses a single game everybody starts going on about how much the team misses him and his ‘work rate’. I’ve argued for years that this ‘work rate’ is ridiculously over-rated when the player is as deficient as Kuyt. Mid-table teams should be prioritising outworking the oppositioon, and unfortunately in large part due to persisting with Kuyt on the right wing for all these years, that is exactly what we have become!

    Carragher is just terrible, full stop. I’d rather have Wisdom out there than him at this point. He can’t beat the opposition in the air, to loose balls, stop the dribbles and clearly can’t control the defence as everybody has suddenly begun making numerous mistakes as soon as he’s been reinstated to the team. The guy is a liability.

    We’re stuck with Downing for another year at least, so hopefully over the summer somebody will teach him how to do a simple stepover or something to create space for a cross, instead of just wacking it into the fullbacks shins every time (on those occassions where he doesn’t just pass responsibility on to Enrique)

  • http://www.paisleygates.com/ steven.

    short simple passes win matches….look at Spain. 
    there’s very few Hollywood balls on display when they roll out…just concise buildup play and retaining possession .. 

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  • http://www.paisleygates.com/ steven.

    Jonjo did have a great match…everytime i’ve seen the kid, he’s made an impression. look forward to seeing him a bit more as the season rolls on.

  • Kanav_gg

    while i agree with the majority of your comments, and i’m a person who tends not to care how much we pay for a player as long as they do a job for the club its none of my business how much we spent on him… but my one criticism of henderson is that he doesnt take any chances… the two video’s that you’ve compiled show a massive difference in general direction of passes between shelvy and henderson.  while there were a few very good long range diagonal balls from henderson, shelvy’s passing is more attacking and positive where henderson tends to play from side to side.  so far i think shelvy is a better player…. only time will tell to see if Henderson is the player we thought we bought.

  • manuyaji

    Henderson played very well in that withdrawn midfield role. He is a cultured passer with an eye for a penetrating pass, given the time to do it. That is exactly why he must be played in the withdrawn mid role. He could be our next Alonso..
    Great video compilation.. His couple of through balls, over the head long passes were all brilliant. That must clearly show to the powers that be which position he can really shine in.

  • Kanav_gg

    btw, i’m not suggesting that passing from side to side is a bad thing… especially if thats the only option on.. i’m just worried that its all he looks for rather than the possible ball forward that shelvy undoubtly looks for… Henderson just tends to look sideways where Shelvy looks up the field…

    I do like the player… and I think he’ll become a good player… Im just saying I’m more excited about Shelvy and Spearing than I am Henderson… though his flair and ball control is incredible for someone his age.

    plus, I think we should ship Kuyt out… he slows down play far too much and when asked to do the quick passing thing he always gives possession away…but that’s a debate for another day…

  • rubyrm

    Still a waste. In 18mths our reserve team players would also develop, mature and play consistently.
    Hendo was bought for NOW, TODAY, actually last summer. Nobody buys a player for 20mil and then develops
    him for 2 years.. This is Ludicrous. I agree he is young and got potential but for the Now……….
    still a waste of money. 20mil could buy 10, 21 years old future players for development.

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  • Leron

    Hendo looks very promising, just read an article that the top PL teams pass more sideways than the rest. Shelvey is too slow getting back and his passing forward looks good, but ineffective. Henderson is class and will prove so in a few months.

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  • alex_snow2

    I think the problem with Henderson is that he is not a stereotypical English midfielder – ie a Gerrard or a Lampard offensively or a Scott Parker defensively – but everyone seems to think he should be. All this criticism for sideways passing and playing it safe and keep possession is also leveled at Michael Carrick. But isn’t that what the Spanish do? I’d argue that all Hendo needs is a bit of confidence and he will be a very very good player.

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