CHAMPION: Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifts the Premier League trophy. AFP/VNA Photo
Haters, as the saying goes, are always going to hate, and right now the knives are well and truly out for Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
Days after lifting his team’s first league title in 30 years, Henderson was named the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year.
And so the muck slinging began.
As well as the usual bunch of keyboard warriors sat at home in their bedrooms waiting for their mummies to bring their dinners on a tray and leave outside the door, there were also angry shouts from so-called experts, many who feel the prize should have been given to Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne or even Henderson’s teammate Sadio Mane.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that Henderson is a better footballer than either of the above-mentioned players, because he is not, but the decision to award the Liverpool captain the prize is 100 per cent right and proper.
For years after signing for Liverpool from Sunderland, his boyhood club, Henderson was forever in the shadows of Steven Gerrard.
There were many times, particularly in his early days with Liverpool, that Henderson’s performances didn’t live up to expectations and the team around him was stuttering at best.
Former Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers had even reportedly agreed to get rid of Henderson in a swap deal with Fulham that would see the American international Clint Dempsey switch to Anfield.
Henderson, apparently, refused and instead opted to stick it out with Liverpool and try to get back to his best. And he sure has.
This year he has lifted the Champions League, World Club Cup, European Super Cup, and now the Holy Grail of prizes Liverpool have desperately sought, the Premier League.
But still, haters are hating.
He may not possess the silkiest of skills, and he may not dribble past six players before smashing the ball into the top corner, but what Henderson cannot be accused of, is not working hard.
And don’t just take my word for it, look at the stats. When Henderson doesn’t play, Liverpool don’t play that well. He missed the last four games of the season through injury and the Reds dropped four points, drawing at home to Burnley and losing away at Arsenal. Results that would have been unthinkable pre-COVID-19 social distancing.
Jurgen Klopp knows his skipper’s worth and when fit, I have no doubt he is the first name on his team sheet. Gareth Southgate, England manager, is also a big fan, and as long as he is in charge of the national team, then you will see Henderson in his teams.
And the haters will still hate.
But what many don’t understand is that Henderson is the glue that unites Liverpool.
He is the type of player you may not notice too much during the 90 minutes, but dearly miss when he is not on the pitch.
He also had the added pressure of taking over the captaincy from Gerrard, a true legend at Liverpool. But already he has achieved more than the ex-skipper ever did.
Next season Liverpool face the even tougher task of retaining the title, and for me, there is no better person to lead that charge than Jordan Henderson.
And as for the haters, well I guess no matter what he does, they are always going to hate. — VNS