Friday, May 25, 2018

My Captain

This post was a long time coming, its dedicated to all of those who said he was no good, the ones who said he doesn't have what it takes, he doesn't have the mentality, he doesn't have the passion, the desire, the stomach to lead such a big club, echoed in history such as Liverpool. This is for those who said Jordan Henderson wouldn't cut it, well, I'm here to tell you to go and look at him now.

When Steven Gerrard left Liverpool, it was more than just a player leaving, he was the club because for so long he was at the forefront of everything, in defeat and in victory he was there. When we were down, he lifted us up, he was the heart beat that gave the team life. He was formidable in attack, partnered well with many superstars who joined the club, he was the one constant we became used to and when he left, he left a huge void that many felt that could not be filled. Hence when the arm band was passed down onto young Jordan Henderson, many felt he wasn't the right man for the job. After Stevie, could there be anyone that would have been right? No!

There was a divide, some who trusted the decision by Brendan Rodgers and those who slated it. He was just 24 years at the time, only been at the club for about 4 years, not even from the parts, how could he be captain of one of the greatest football clubs of the world? Well, I was part of the divide that welcomed him, there was just something about him that I liked. He gained my respect as a player as he challenged for a place in a hotly contested midfield since he got to the club in 2011 to instill himself as a regular in the starting 11 and he gained my respect as a person, when he was pictured in the crowd of Sunderland supporters, at Wembley in 2014, watching his boyhood club Sunderland, take on Manchester City in the Capital One Cup. That is passion and love for you, opting not to sit in a corporate box, or the FA allocated seats, but being there as a fan.

Yes, he was not born and raised in Liverpool, but he's English and that counts massively now in the league. He was given a raw deal under the Rodgers reign and this came to show as it was exposed recently how Rodgers told Jordan that the door was open for him to leave, which left the captain devastated and even said he was in tears later that evening. While he was at a top level, he always had age on his side and I'm glad he chose not to take that option and continued to push with the club. I didn't think much of Rodgers, especially since he had a hand and forcing Gerrard out, still a few years from him calling it time on his career. I think Stevie could have managed another season or two with us. The good thing was during that time, Gerrard helped mold Hendo into the player he is today. 

Since taking over as captain, he didn't have it easy, as I said many doubted him, it was tough but he knuckled down and kept at his job. People don't seem to take notice of the hard graft he puts in because he's not always on the score sheets or not making that telling run down the line or tricking the defenders, he's in the middle, keeping things tidy. Making sure the front players get supplied and the defence doesn't get any unwanted surprises. He's the sweeper, the guy doing the dirty work and never was this more prolific than the opening 20 minutes at Anfield during the first semi-final against Roma. The opponents tried to beat us at our own game, hard pressing, fast pace and all out attack. This did catch us off guard, especially the youngsters, but you could hear Jordan commands his troops, yelling at Robbo and Trent, making sure things were tight in the center with him and Milly. It was because of him we overcame that storm and went finally could get our game into gear. The rest is history. 

So while many might still ponder his abilities, let me tell you now, that if you are a true supporter, a genuine supporter who watches the games, the players, you will know that Jordan has every right to. Come Saturday night, whether he lifts ol big ears up or not, he will have nothing to prove to the faithful, as we know the quality he has, and the trust the manager has in him. Next season will be interesting though, with new signings coming in to bolster the midfield, it might see the shape of the team change and players sitting out some games, bringing back the old rotation which minimizes the fatigue come the crunch end of the season. The future only looks positive though, with Klopp and owners both happy, the players happy and most importantly, us the fans being happy!

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