Introducing Flavor of the Season: Jordan Henderson
The title may seem a bit overhyped as if it's a trailer or something. But so overwhelming was the performance of the man in question that this author chose a swashbuckling title rather than the along the lines kind of title. But let’s not waiver from the point and kudos to the man. What a goal eh!
Worth the wait, especially if you are an Indian Liverpool fan. The wait here refers to those red eyeballs screeching for sleep. But, the sleepiness vanished within the first few moments of the match, as Liverpool seemed to just carry on from the weekend. The match on a whole was average, especially from a neutral point of view but yes, ultimately Liverpool won it due to some wonderful performances of the captain or is it captain in waiting.
Now the Anfield faithful might not kindly take to such words of mine, but Stevie G will always be in our heart, especially this era of fans who have seen Steven Gerrard in his prime. For us, he was Captain Fabulous, over the years, when at times it seemed that he used to single-handedly battle on the opponents.
But as we are all aware, football is more dynamic than life itself. And come the new dawn, it’s a new captain and Jordan Henderson doesn’t look like he is shouldering the burden, instead he has excelled under this added responsibility, and this new role.
While, Sir Alex Ferguson may have been too quick to judge, his words seem to have stirred something in Henderson. As a professional footballer, it may be at times easy to accept criticism from, say, couch critics, but to get criticized by someone who is a legend in the world of football is something else. Henderson, instead of being deterred has used this bout of criticism as positive criticism and as earlier pointed out excelled if not anything else. Gone are the days when Brendan Rodgers toyed around the idea of sending him on loan to another Premier League club. Gladly, instead of sulking around, like a true professional he chose to stay back at the club instead and fight for his place.
As Vince Lombardi says, “The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” Henderson, rightly has chosen hard work as the only desired route for success and is now reaping their benefits.
A lead well-deserved
Wednesday night was another addition to his list of successes. After an early season dip in form, Henderson has remarkably picked up his game. In the early part of the season, even among all the bad run of results, it was Henderson who was tirelessly running around, trying to make something happen. The Liverpool faithful were worried with what was happening to the team, as the team continued their downward spiral. But once the change in system was adopted, the same tireless running became more effective and it is the player who has taken his game to another level. I dare say, fearing the ire of my fellow Liverpool supporters and Chelsea fans, he seems to be a young Frank Lampard in the making. But, let’s not burden him with names, let the man be himself. As Rodger’s pointed out towards the end of the game, “He has always had athleticism, he is born with a natural gift to run, and tactically he is improving all the time and his passing is improving and he is becoming one of the real leaders of this team.”
Coming back to the game, where he was the all-around star as he scored one and created one. Along the way though, there were others in the team as well who stood out with commanding displays. Lallana had a wonderful game, as he held up the ball for the second goal. Other than that key moment, he was instrumental throughout the game. Among others, effusive praise can be showered on England striker, Daniel Sturridge. The past few weeks may have seen Coutinho and Henderson hogging the headlines, but, it is the availability of Sturridge which is now allowing Brendan Rodgers to experiment with his formations. Other subtle changes and tweaking has also improved the dynamics of the team.
Flexible use of Markovic (who didn’t start this game) and Sterling, as well as the turn of the year adaptability of Dejan Lovren has contributed to the overall growth of this team. As proved, Liverpool started off the game in a hurry as they took the lead in almost 25 seconds. Several fine saves from the Burnley goalkeeper, Tom Heaton was one of the reasons Liverpool walked into the break only a goal up. Burnley did fashion a few chances in between and may have hoped for a better result, but all that was snuffed out when Henderson delivered a cross which Sturridge planted past the goalkeeper to double the lead.
The second goal only confirmed the team’s intentions, and they chose to control the match and without any substantial threat arising from Burnley, the final score ended 2-0. Liverpool have now gone 12 games unbeaten in the league, whereas Burnley has only one win in the past twelve. While the stats at the end of the game may suggest that it was a game Liverpool shouldn’t have sweated about, it was anything like that. Sean Dyche’s men continue putting in shifts which show their commitment, but the lack of quality is starting to show. The fact that teams above them have are only a win away, shows that a few wins in a row might just push them off the bottom three.