John Gibbons: It’s baffling some fans can’t see how good Henderson is

Our Liverpool-loving writer discusses Jordan Henderson’s new contract at Anfield and looks at the fan reaction to the news…


Liverpool is a positive place to be at the moment.

After an improbable yet ultimately unsuccessful run to the Champions League Final last season, Liverpool continued their form and flair throughout the summer- including beating both Manchester clubs and thumping Napoli 5-0.

Now the real business has started again and The Reds sit top of the table after a perfect start from their first four games.

Top players want to join Liverpool and existing players want to stay. They’re all committing to a club on the up.

You’d have thought that the news of the captain Jordan Henderson signing a new contract this week would be met with universal delight amongst fans. But this is Liverpool, where things are never quite that straightforward.

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That’s because for many Liverpool fans (online and irl) Jordan Henderson – the player signed by Kenny Dalglish, made captain by Brendan Rodgers (admittedly after he tried to sell him to Fulham, but then Brendan was a bit mad), picked as vice-captain by Gareth Southgate in the summer’s World Cup and described as “our general” by Jurgen Klopp – is actually rubbish.

Not “quite good, but maybe not good enough.” Not “a decent squad player, but possibly not a guaranteed starter.” Just so awful that some individuals can’t believe he’s made it as a professional footballer, never mind tricked a succession of top managers to keep picking him for a club and country.

* Now for a disclaimer. I like Jordan Henderson. I believe he is a fine man, and an even better footballer.

I reckon he can be occasionally rushed receiving the ball in tight spaces, and his injury record is frustrating, but when he’s at his best I believe there are few better midfielders in the Premier League.

Now I could try and convince the naysayers now with stats and videos and pretty graphs showing his range of passing, but there is little point.

If Jurgen Klopp can’t convince people he’s a brilliant footballer, what hope do I have? But, it is also not really what I am most interested in anyway.

What I find fascinating is the determination to drag him down at everyone opportunity.

Why Liverpool fans will spend their own free time making YouTube videos of backwards passes and missed tackles. Why people have decided that Fabinho, who 99% of Liverpool fans haven’t seen play in the flesh yet, is certainly a better option.

Why after an incident in which Allison Becker turned into Alison Moyet in our box, there are Liverpool fans, minutes after a win putting us top of the table, wanting to blame the Leicester goal on a pass from Henderson to Virgil Van Djik earlier in the move.

What are they trying to prove?

Are they hoping that Jurgen Klopp will see their videos and tweets and come to his senses and drop him? Because I am almost certain if he did see them, he’d just think the makers were d**kheads.

Is it just to let off steam or make themselves feel better? If so, where is the negativity coming from? Why is it seemingly singled out on one player?

I can’t answer this, it just baffles me.

I could blame the modern world of social media, always needing to be right and never backing down.  However, for as long as I can remember there have been players who have wildly divided opinion.

Ronnie Whelan, Jamie Redknapp, Luis Garcia, they all suffered from similar.

Some who could see what they offered to the team and some who couldn’t understand it.

If they were around now, they’d be getting the worst of compilation videos and IHATEWHELAN Twitter accounts, but they just got moaning in the pub instead. They should count themselves lucky, I guess.

Henderson is the latest in a line of Marmite players. He’ll certainly never win over some,but I certainly hope (for Liverpool’s sake) he manages to have the last laugh.

A big trophy in May would be a great start. Jurgen Klopp also said this week he feels that “the best thing is he will get even better in these coming years” and at 28 as a defensive midfielder, he should be right – time will tell.

But if he does, just don’t expect everyone to notice. Or at least to admit it. He still might pass the occasional ball backwards, after all.

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