Jordan Henderson in the spotlight

Under Hicks, Gillett and Hodgson Liverpool’s activity in the transfer-market was fuelled by rumour and counter-rumour. Under Henry, Werner and Dalglish matters returned to what used to be known as “The Liverpool Way”, meaning that deals would be conducted privately and discretely and only then would details be released. This is what happened in the case of Jordan Brian Henderson, the 20-year-old who successfully passed his medical at Melwood on Thursday 9th June 2011 and was only then officially unveiled as a Liverpool player.

“The Liverpool Way” does not mean that decisions are made rashly or on impulse. On procuring Henderson’s signature, Kenny Dalglish admitted that “we have been watching him since he came into the Sunderland first team and have been tracking him”. That breakthrough into the first team came as an 18-year-old in the 2008-09 season but Jordan had actually been linked with his local Premier League club since he was only seven years old! As he progressed through different age-groups he played as a striker and a right-winger before moving back into the midfield role he seems best suited to. It was in that role that he helped Sunderland’s Under-18 team win successive titles; and it was in that role that his consistent performances brought him successive awards as Sunderland’s “Young Player of the Year” for the two seasons from 2009 until 2011 in which he was absent from only six Premier League matches.

Henderson was loaned to Coventry City for the second half of the 2008-09 season but a metatarsal injury restricted him to only ten appearances for the Championship club. When fully recovered he became a fixture in Sunderland’s midfield after returning to the Stadium of Light and performed so well that he was rewarded with a new five-year contract in the summer of 2010.

Steve Bruce had great expectations on behalf of his young midfield dynamo after the first couple of months of the 2010-2011 season: "It would be unfair of me to liken Jordan to Giggsy at this stage, but there are parallels - certainly Jordan is becoming as important to us as Giggsy was in his early days at Old Trafford. Jordan has got a very, very bright future. The sky's the limit for him. Jordan has everything you need from a modern-day player - he has a lovely feel for the ball, but he is also 6ft 2in already and has terrific energy."

Jordan represented his country at Under-17 and Under-19 level before being called into the senior squad by Fabio Capello and making his full international debut on the same occasion as Andy Carroll, against France at Wembley in November 2010. The young duo from the North-East endured a difficult evening with the Sunderland man receiving a caution for a lunging tackle.

Henderson’s arrival continues the rebuilding work started in January by the club’s new owners and manager. If it was hard to leave his hometown club, he was both flattered and excited by Liverpool’s interest in acquiring his services. He knows that he will have to work hard to earn his place in the first team and then retain it, his simple admission being “Coming to a massive club like Liverpool, there is always going to be competition. Hopefully I can keep working hard, keep improving, and get my chance on the pitch.”

If Jordan is being groomed to play alongside and perhaps ultimately replace Steven Gerrard, he knows there is one aspect of his game that needs improving. Six goals in ninety-two appearances for Sunderland and Coventry is not a goals-per-game ratio he takes much pleasure in and he honestly says "It has been a weakness in my game. Top midfielders score goals. It is a vital part of the modern game. I want to score goals and it is something I've not managed to do enough of." Young Henderson will learn much from the men around him about all aspects of the game but especially from his new club captain, a man experienced at playing in the same, demanding role that the new arrival will himself occupy. As a new player is welcomed to Anfield, let us hope that his time with us will be both happy and successful. In joining a group of talented, young footballers brought to or nurtured by the club, there is no good reason to doubt that happening.

Copyright - - Chris Wood ([email protected])

Image owned by LFC.


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