21 Mar 2015

Replace Gerrard? Hamann hails 'fantastic' £20m midfield star and explains why he can fill the Gerrard void

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson continues to prove his worth this season, and after another vital goal for the Reds against Swansea, Anfield legend Dietmar Hamann is convinced that the LFC's captain-elect has what it takes to fill the Steven Gerrard void.

Speaking to The Independent this week, Hamann hailed 'impressive' Hendo for 'stepping up and taking responsibility', in the absence of Gerrard, and praised the midfielder for the improvement in his 'all-round game'. He enthused:

“He [Henderson] has been fantastic. You need players in the absence of Gerrard taking the responsibility, and he took it with both hands. In the last 18 months he’s shown his worth to the club".

Henderson is worthy of recognition, but the bare minimum expected of a senior Liverpool midfielder is to 'step up and take responsibility' on the field. Doing that is not going above and beyond the call of duty, but the likes of Hamann, Rodgers et all make it sound that way.

Henderson is paid incredibly well to contribute goals, assists, tackles and leadership on the field; he has every possible training and development resource at his beck and call to ensure he has the best chance of playing well, so he damn well better step up and do the business (!)

At the start of the season, I argued that Hendo needed to significantly improve his goals/assists ratio, and with 6 goals/12 assists in 43 games so far (goal/assist 2.4 games), he's doing his job (for which he's obscenely well paid).

However, Henderson - who is ostensibly an attacking, box-to-box midfielder - should (arguably) be achieving a minimum 10 goals/15 assists per season, especially when Liverpool are competing in four different competitions.

The positive thing is that with six weeks of the season to go, Henderson has a great chance of achieving that, and I don't think it's an unreasonable goal for someone who plays more games than practically everyone else in the LFC squad:

* 175 games over the last 4 seasons.
* Averages 44 games a year.
* 19 goals/28 assists in 175 games.
* Goal every 9.2 games
* Assist every 6.2 games

Hendo has upped his game this season, but his figures are the exception, not the rule of his LFC career. Hopefully, he'll be able to consistently hit his current goal/assist ratio in seasons to come.



  1. Maybe that is why Liverpool is desperate to change the way players are paid , to be more performance related .

    Clearly Henderson and Sterling are not falling for it!

  2. Why would they? both are English.

  3. I think his role in that 3-4-3 requires him to perform an array of jobs and be generally quite disciplined, so it's not all about goals. With the attackers we have he doesn't always need to join them, but needs to be available and in position to stop counter attacks. What's impressive for me is the quality and variety of those goals and assists. Whether it's a 20 harder v City or a lucky rebound v Swansea or an inch perfect looped cross on to the head of Sturridge, he's definitely developed a Captains influence.

    Considering he was once deemed surplus to requirements and nearly loaned out in 2012, it's pretty amazing how far he's come. The variety in his game is impressive; he covers, he tracks, he tackles, he charges forward, he creates and you can see he's added far more aggression to his play.

    Jesus, I'm starting to sound like B-Rod.

  4. Henderson has upped his game every season he's been a Liverpool player. That's really all you can ask: consistent improvement. No reason to think he's about to start going backwards now unless injury gets a hold of him. I think his numbers this years have been excellent, I don't see that Rodgers could ask any more of him. He's not a goal scoring midfielder, he's there as a support player for the front 3/4. If he's getting in the box regularly and into goal scoring positions then there is a big hold behind him and that's not his role. There should always be a minimum of 2 players in advance of Henderson in general play, and normally it would be 4.

    For me, if you can't appreciate players doing "their job" at this level of the game then I think you're missing something. This, along with the other big European leagues, is the pinnacle of club football. These are the best teams and the best players in the world. For Henderson to do what he is paid actually is quite special. All the players are special, they're the best in the business, if they were not then they wouldn't be here. Fans quickly forget that and become armchair experts, seemingly losing perspective on just how remarkable these athletes are. Dismissing them as just "doing their job" to me reflects a really cynical and small minded approach to the game. It sours what is otherwise quite an amazing human achievement. Of course fans have been doing this for as long there has been professional sport. It's just not how I like to see the game, it's not enjoyable for me and it takes away the wonder and appreciation of their abilities.

  5. Give it a rest with the 'armchair experts' guff. You constantly try and intellectualise football, and make out that only a select few with prodigious intelligence are capable of understanding the infinite complexities of 11 guys kicking a ball around.

    Football is easy, both playing, and understanding how it works.

    The players aren't 'special' - they have every possible fitness, training, and conditioning resource at their beck and call, and a team of world-renowned experts on hand to help them 24/7.

    They get paid obscene amounts of money to do the basics (pass, shoot, tackle etc), and very few of them actually rise above what should be expected of them week-in, week-out. They do what they're paid to do, just like everyone else.

    And drop the personal commentary about my 'approach to the game'. It's irrelevant. I have my opinion, and if you don't like, tough luck. Please stick to addressing the points.

  6. As the owner and the only author of the site, isn't your opinion one of the points to be discuss?

  7. Yes, my opinion, i.e. the football related parts. Rip my argument to shreds, but drop the personal comments. Attack the argument, not the person.

  8. Sounds like you're the one who has a problem with people's opinion, not me. I expressed my point of view, if you have a problem with that, tough luck. I think if you can't appreciate the level at which these guys perform then you're daft. That's my view of the game, of professional athletes and the way they are viewed by fans, no matter what the sport. So what?

    You in turn say that playing football is easy. What a ridiculous statement. That just reinforces my point. You're an armchair expert who thinks they know it all and when someone challenges your "expertise" you blow it off and say that football is easy, failing to admit just how average and normal you actually are. You obviously have a massive inferiority complex because you then take it all quite personally and turn it into a personal argument.

  9. Jaimie I often find you have a very mechanical way of thinking about players. This is not a criticism, just an observation. You rely too much on stats imo and often ultimately forget that players are human beings like the rest of us. Yes Hendo has everything available to him to give him every possible chance of becoming a top player but so does pretty much every other premier league player. Very few have the courage and strength of character to actually step up and lead a club, much less a club like Liverpool and also trying to take the reigns from a true icon of the game. It's even harder if you're not blessed with tons of natural ability. Hendo has had to work tirelessly for everything he has so he is surely deserving of some credit.
    Seems to me that your view is, if a player isn't performing then he's rubbish but if he is then that's just what he's meant to do. So is credit never due?
    Lots of players have the natural ability to be world beaters. Lee Trundle springs to mind, or Hatem Ben Arfa? Loaded with natural ability but for whatever reason, can't produce it on a big stage week after week. This is why there are so few elite players. It's not that ability is rare, it's that the ability has to be mixed with the right character and attitude in order for the player to be successful and hardly anyone has that mix.
    The levels Ronaldo and Messi perform on are quite frankly super-human and should not be considered the norm. Other players are affected by issues in their personal lives, new baby in the house etc. same as the rest of us.
    If allowances are never made for players then you'll spend your life being frustrated and disappointed by players pretty much never living up to your expectations

  10. Totally agree. I wrote a long comment on the subject but it's bafflingly gone for moderation.

  11. To be fair Jaimie, if you rip your argument to shreds you just remove the comment...

  12. At the risk of another ban spot bloody on !

  13. Few months ago I was sceptical about Henderson's ability to captain the team. The criteria I felt would convince of his worthiness was to score important goals and assists. Therefore earning the respect of the team. He's done exactly that and he has the attitude not to rest on his laurels, which bodes well for the future.

  14. That is how I saw it, as attacking your approach to the game...