8 Mar 2014

Macca: Forget SAS - £20m midfielder is LFC's 'star of the last few months'. Agree...?

With their amazing goalscoring exploits, Liverpool strikers Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have taken most of the plaudits for the Reds' consistently good form this season, but ex-LFC defender Jason McAteer insists that one of the club's unsung heroes deserves the most praise.

In a recent column for 5-Times, McAteer hailed Jordan Henderson as the 'star of the last few months', and praised the midfielder for being much more 'disciplined' under Brendan Rodgers. He enthused:

"Jordan Henderson deserves massive credit.

"He took a lot of criticism in his first year, but he’s improved his performances, and it’s all added up to him being a much more complete player.

"I’m so glad that rumoured move to Fulham never happened and I really hope he gets to go to the World Cup".

Hendo is an integral part of the current LFC team, but I disagree with McAteer here. In my view, Raheem Sterling has made more of a specific, measurable impact on the Reds over 'the last few months':

Stats since 1 Jan 2014

Henderson: 2 goals/1 assist in 15 games | G/A ever 5 games.
Sterling: 3 goals/2 assists in 12 games| G/A every 2.4 games.

The margins are small, and Goals/assists are not everything, but end product is ultimately the name of the game. What this shows, though (IMO), is that Henderson's creative output is still not up to scratch.

One assist in 15 games is simply not good enough for a first-team attacking midfielder. I'm sorry, it just isn't. Hendo is playing well this season, but if he doesn't improve his goals/assists ratio then his place will under threat next season when Rodgers brings in another attacking midfielder.

Henderson should be achieving Sterling's goals/assist ratio (one every 2.4 games), but he's nowhere near that right now. Sterling is younger than Henderson, and is still learning the game, so periods of inconsistency should be expected, but Henderson is 24 in a few months, and already has over 200 games of Premier League experienced behind him.

Some may argue that given LFC's current position in the table, Hendo's goals/assist record is irrelevant, but I disagree. SAS's stunning goal return is masking attacking deficiencies elsewhere in the team, and this will come home to roost at some point.

I personally want to see Henderson play a major role in the last ten games of the season. He needs to effect one or two of the big games Liverpool have coming up, and take some pressure off Suarez and Sturridge.

Over Christmas, the Reds lost against both Chelsea and City *with* Suarez in the team, so there's no guarantee of positive results when the clubs meet again. When SAS have an off-day, the likes of Henderson need to step-up and make a match-winning impact, and that's rarely happened this season.



  1. The thing is you label Henderson as an attacking midfielder, yet I don't think Henderson fulfils the same role as a player like Sterling, Coutinho who have completely different attributes to Henderson.

    Sterling is always going to provide more of an end product than Henderson because he plays further up the pitch and has the pace to beat the offside trap, Imo Henderson's main role as an attacking mid is to pressurise, control and move the ball quickly in advanced positions, the reason he will never make the same stats as the other forwards is because he starts the moves off.

    I understand your point of view, he doesn't have the creativity as some of our other forwards and definitely needs to improve his finishing, but he does bring an energy to our midfield which we would miss in those stronger games, he may not have the stats to show for it but he has a big part in getting those stats for our other forwards.

  2. Just because he doesnt score / assist doesnt necessarily mean he didnt play his part in creating a goal. Hypothetically, Hendo could beat a load of players; pass to Sturridge, who just lays the ball into Suarez and then he finishes. He wouldnt get an assist but you couldnt say that he didnt play his part because he obviously did. And I've seen him do similar a few times. And thats the same for any player in his position (not attacking midfield btw).

    I should point out that I'm not attacking your opinion you could be right; he doesnt score often enough. But we've scored more than anyone else and I think you need the leg work in behind the attackers, in order for that to happen.

    In my opinion; hes been great.

  3. JK you have a point, it's why we tried signing Henrik Mkhitaryan & Willain. Hendo deserves a lot if credit for going from fringe to key player. If Rogers has any sense though he should upgrade in preparation for next season! Whilst Hendo has time to improve even more.

  4. Liverpool did not have the full advantage of SAS during the critical Christmas period as Sturridge was injured therefore it was Suarez and not the SAS!

  5. Comparing Sterling and Henderson is like comparing Sterling and Sturridge. Not the same position = uncomparable

  6. Is that clear cut chances?

  7. i dont mind if his creative return satys the same. as long as he presses non stop over the full 90 mins and keeps making crucial passes.

  8. Henderson has come on in leaps and bounds but it should not detract from his poor return in goals scored. Its not like he doesn't get into scoring positions either. Most of his shots on goal can be seen going miles over the bar followed by a camera shot of him cursing his profligacy. He needs competition next season so he ups his game even more adding goals to his repertoire.

  9. Stats cant possibly pick up all the contributions and impact made by a player. We cant have all the players doing the same thing; to assists or score goals. There is other role to play. What is important here is whether hendo has fulfill that role which the BR has asked for.

  10. There have been quite a few superstars this season. They all deserve credit.

  11. Yesterday you said Sakho was defensively suspect based on clean sheets by our entire defence. If you go visit any statistical or analytical sites such as Anfield index, EPL Index etc etc who have experts and even football coaches etc etc writing for those sites, you will find that player performance analysis is based on individual stats and contributions by those specific players. Plus they compare like for like players i.e. CB vs CB, RB vs RB and FW vs FW etc etc.

    Comparing Henderson and Sterling when both serve a different purpose in the team IMO does not make any sense.

  12. Henderson is an attacking midfielder.......do you watch Liverpool these days by any chance?

  13. Can Stevie get hold of him & teach him how to shoot please!! He keeps making the same mistake time after time by not getting over the ball. He could easily scored 12 - 15 this season which would have made him best in prem.

  14. "Masking attacking deficiencies" - Liverpool have scored more goals after 28 games than any other team in PL history

    Suarez has only scored about 5 goals of last 35 goals

    The fixtures just after Christmas were incredibly unkind - arguably the 2 toughest away fixtures in space of 3 days - of which, we should have beaten City, unfortunate error from officials, combined with Mignolet throwing one in and countless missed chances, then the unexplainable non award of a penalty that would have earned a draw.

    We should nothing to worry about in the coming matches. Especially if Chelsea make the CL semis, fixtures scheduled either side of Chelsea game in Anfield.

    Fingers crossed that our deficient attack will get its act together :)

    I am also confident of a decent win in Old Trafford

  15. He gets people to the site by writing controversial nonsense just like all the redtop papers.It wasnt that many games ago that he was criticising sterlings output, suddenly he's the beacon which all players should aspire to. Comparing Jordan and Raheem is stupid, may as well compare Jordan and Mignolet. Different players, different positions doing a different job for the club.

  16. I am sorry, but you write on football everday, but seem to have such a limited perception on how liverpool as a team play, and the role of each player in the system. I agree with you, i think hendos creative output needs to improve, but thats really a very small part of his role in the team. He hassles, tackles, keeps the ball moving, and plays diagonals balls beautifully, and in our current system that is what is required of him. Merely looking at goal/assist stats does not show the whole story. Raheem has been brilliant the second half of the season, and has been integral to our current possition, but you cannot compare their creative output. They play completely differentt roles, especially with our increased emphasis on fast counterattacking football. Goals and assists are important, but the entire unit, and pressure of the team as a whole, hugely influences end product at this level. Hendo has been priceless this year, and i feel confident to say we would not be were we are without his energy and improved passing range. Hes not the complete mid yet, but comparing his goals/assist to raheem is quite naive. Also., in our current system he is not really an attacking mid, much more of a box-to-box mid, while coutinho plays alot more advanced, and is relied upon to create.

  17. There's a lot of truth in what you say, but it's also a fact that Henderson should have between six and ten more goals just based on the chances, some of them quite straightforward inside the box, that he's missed.

    Not so bothered about assist stats -- chances created is better -- but Henderson should have more goals, there's no question about that. Part of his role in the team is to finish moves, that's why he bursts into the box, why he's sometimes the furthest man forward, and so on, and he's not doing it.

  18. What a preposterous statement.

  19. Henderson's creative output is, at this time, only a 'very small part' of what he's doing, but that needs to change. You outline the way he *is* playing, not the way he *should* be playing.

    When it comes to the crunch, Henderson's hassling, tackling etc is utterly irrelevant if he only scores one goal every 15 games. I'd rather have a midfielder who tackled 50% less, but scored 50% more goals.

    So what if Hendo plays 'diagonal balls beautifully (!)' - is that going to win LFC trophies? No. End product is what matters, and that's what it all ultimately boils down to for attack-minded players.

    If Henderson doesn't improve in this area, he will be increasingly on the bench next season, and he'll deserve it.

    There's no room for sentiment. A midfielder who scores goals regularly will always get in the team ahead of an industrious tryer who scores once in a blue moon.

  20. I'm not directly comparing Henderson and Sterling, but since you have a pathological inability to interpret data correctly, your interpretation doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

    Plus, you can say whatever you want about individual stats, but they are irrelevant when it comes to issue of overall team performance. I've given many examples of this already over the las few days: superlative individual stats do not always correlate to amazing team performance. That is a fact, whether you like it or not.

  21. Gosh, do I have to over-explain every tiny detail over everything I write? I'm clearly referring to *individual* attacking deficiencies, i..e Henderson failure to score/create enough goals. It amazes me how often people misinterpret things, (though in most cases I suspect it's deliberate)

  22. Hey, perhaps you should read the article properly and try and comprehend that I haven't directly compared Sterling and Sturridge?

    The inability of so many people to interpret things properly is quite bizarre. It probably boils down the concerning reality that many people just don't read accurately these days. We're in the age of 'skim-reading', and consequently, the simplest concepts get lost.

    Perhaps I should just dumb everything down, and stop giving people credit for having the rudimentary ability to interpret simple written data.

    Let me break this article down for those who are seemingly incapable of getting it:

    * McAteer claims Henderson is the 'star of the last few months'.

    * I disagree, and claim that Sterling is more deserving of the label 'star of the last few months'.

    * To back up my point, I use Sterling's stats to show that he's made more of a creative impact than Henderson over 'the last few months'

    * I further argue that as (ostensibly) an attacking midfielder, Henderson - at the age of 23 - should be achieving a goal/assist rate that's similar to Sterling's (i.e. goal assist every 2-3 games)

    That's it. It is very straightforward, yet people ignore the point and claim that the article is about something that doesn't even exist, i.e. a direct comparison between Sterling and Henderson.

    The default position for a lot of people seems to be interpretive laziness: it's too much effort to actually *think* about what's being argued, so they just pick out something obvious and run with it, even when it has nothing to do with the actual point.

    Such is life, sadly.

  23. Andrea Pirlo plays 'diagonal balls beautifully' and he's done alright for himself trophy-wise. Just for the record, he's on three goals and four assists in twenty league games this season...

  24. Pirlo plays a different role than Henderson. He's a deep-lying playmaker, not a box-to-box midfielder who's tasked with (by his own admission) getting into the box to score goals.

  25. And Henderson plays a different role to sterling

  26. No, I don't think we should be anywhere near him because he is not up to the same level that he was in the last season. Iker Muniain or Christian Tello or Ibai Gomez or Koke would be far better than Herrera.

  27. I wasn't directly comparing Henderson to Sterling, and if you actually read the article properly (as opposed to skim reading), you will see that.

  28. JK, you appear to be missing the point. You are using generalised high level stats to back up your view. By getting a more detailed breakdown of the data, Greg Jones has shown that while Sakho has been involved in games where LFC has not kept a clean sheet, he has not been directly involved in the defensive errors that led to the goals. Surely that must count for something.

    Do we think Vincent Kompany and Demichelis are equally good defenders for City? I would say most would disagree. Yet, in your analysis, Kompany should shoulder as much of the blame for the goals scored against City as Demichelis. I would suggest no manager would take this view. If they did, they would look to replace both players, rather than identifying and replacing just the weak link.

    Finally, a clean sheet is not the be all and end all. It is also about when the goals are conceded, and how they were conceded. Toure's error in the away game at the Hawthorns could be a very costly error (2 points lost) compared to come of the other errors when we have been 3 or 4 goals up.

  29. Agree with JK. Not worth 20m

  30. Sackoshit is how one LFC supporter described Sakho, I didn't agree nor disagree as it's a personal preference.. I think he is a good player but a little suspect in certain defensive play. He seems 2 love his trademark sliding tackles and instead of staying upright and defusing a situation he instead dives recklessly into a challenge which wasn't required. Suspect 2 say the least, but also can be super at last ditch tackles. Anyways id prefer 2 have him in the squad than not 2 have, Pair him up with Matt Hummels?? Now that would be savage YNWA