Football

Liverpool: Is Jordan Henderson a better captain than Steven Gerrard was at Anfield?

Jordan Henderson is finally receiving the recognition and praise he truly deserves as Liverpool’s skipper. The one-time unwanted player under Brendan Rodgers has become an indispensable piece of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.  Henderson is having his best-ever season and is in the form of his life. He has been so good that it looks likely Henderson will be named the PFA Player of the Year.

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The midfielder has lifted the Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup trophy in the last 12 months. As it stands, the Reds are on their way to winning the Premier League title, needing just six more wins to claim their first league championship in 30 years.

If the Reds do continue on their path of Premier League destruction to win the title, Henderson will achieve a feat no other Liverpool captain post-1990 has accomplished. Liverpool great Steven Gerrard never lifted the league title although he came close on a couple of occasions.

Gerrard had a connection to Liverpool supporters due to growing up on Merseyside and coming through the academy. Yet, Henderson has had to fight for his place ever since arriving from Sunderland in 2011. After one season, Henderson was unwanted and a transfer for then-Tottenham Hotspur player Clint Dempsey was on the cards until the Liverpool man refused to go.

It was a decision that has turned out to be one of the best, unexpected, decisions in Liverpool history. Now, with Henderson on pace to lift the Premier League trophy at some point this season, it begs the question, is Jordan Henderson a better captain than Steven Gerrard was at Anfield?

A case for Jordan Henderson

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While Gerrard was a great individual player capable of turning a game on its head at a moment’s notice, Henderson has never had that capability. Yet, what Henderson lacks in the ability to score a goal out of nothing to change a game’s outcome, he is a far better team player than Gerrard ever was at Anfield.

One of Henderson’s best attributes is his outgoing personality on the pitch. He is always encouraging his teammates and in a referee’s ear. Gerrard, on the other hand, was quiet and gave players a look of death after mistakes were made. Yes, Gerrard could fire-up his teammates; however, Henderson is far more willing to cheer on the squad.

The midfielders play/played completely different roles in the team. Gerrard was more of an attacking player that got forward. Under Rafael Benitez, he played off of Fernando Torres and other strikers. Henderson is tasked with playing a deeper role or on the side of Fabinho to support Mohamed Salah on the right.

Jordan Henderson a great team player

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As a team player, Henderson is second to none. In Qatar at the FIFA Club World Cup, Henderson played a full 90 minutes at centre-back next to Joe Gomez versus Monterrey. Against West Ham a week ago in the Premier League, Henderson played right-back, seeing out the game to allow Trent Alexander-Arnold to be removed.

Henderson will never score the number of goals or tally the assists Gerrard did in a single season. However, he is this season chipping in with goals and assists for the first time at Anfield. Henderson has three goals and four assists in 24 league games.

It isn’t the goals and assists that make Henderson great. It is his team play, leadership, and attitude that make him such a great player.

Gerrard won silverware at Liverpool although none of those trophies was the Premier League title. For all the FA Cups, League Cups, UEFA Cups and UEFA Super Cups, there is no doubt the former player would have traded those for one Premier League trophy.

Henderson could win the trophy that so many ex-Reds players, including Gerrard, longed for. If Liverpool continue on to the title and win it, then Henderson should be thought of as the best team captain since Alan Hansen in 1990.