I am very wary uploading a profile on Jordan Henderson just because I know I will get some stick because of my very strongly positive views on the kid. However I will try to be as unbiased as I can.
If you don't want a long and thorough read, I advise you stop reading now. This is for the pure football fans among you.
First I will look at Jordan's "technical" ability which I will split up into the following sections:
PASSING. During last season I noticed one main thing about Jordan's passing. He shifts the ball on very quickly. Some people may regard this as a lack of responsibility in that he doesn't DRIVE the game a la Stevie G and instead, he becomes a passenger by giving somebody else the responsibility of the ball. I partly agree with this but I think it depends on the way you play. If you're looking to play a possession game and continually trying to play triangles (as you will see in Rodgers' Tiki Taka/total football approach) then Henderson's quick short passing is perfect. This is why I believe Henderson will be a much better player under Rodgers' system than Kenny-™s. Very rarely does he need to control and pass and this signifies a player of solid technical passing ability. Compare him to Alonso, and no, you're not going to see long, beautiful diagonal passes to a player on the wing. Instead you will see short, clever and crisp passes to a player close to him in a better position. Maybe he should improve his long passing ability to make him a complete player, but it is more important he has a 90%+ short passing completion than an 80% long passing completion (considering out new game plan)
FIRST TOUCH. He truly has one of the best first touches in the Liverpool squad. Sometimes it is hard to see this purely because he also has the ability to pass the ball on with one touch. So in this sense you rarely see that beautiful ball control followed by a pass. It is just "receive, pass. Receive, pass"
DRIBBLING & BALL CONTROL. Again it is not something we've seen much of Henderson and so I won-™t guess. However we have seen the odd driving run. Having said that, I don't see him weaving his way past 2 or 3 players simply by close ball control. He is quite big and doesn't have a very low centre of gravity. It is something he will improve on as he gets older. But it is not something a Liverpool fan should be concerned about. If he gets the ball and plays an incisive pass, then I would personally be happy.
SHOOTING. Jordan didn't score many last year. But which Liverpool player did. We created a lot of chances last year, as Kenny rambled on about. But the question is, how many of these chances were "clear cut." This is the difference imo between Kenny and Rodgers. Rodgers will look for the team to create better quality chances while Kenny (albeit with the aid of Comolli whose stats suggested those teams that crossed the most created the most chances) looked to create a lot of chances. Anyhow, Henderson's shooting technique is solid but unspectacular. He has been played as a right midfielder last year which is obviously not his best position. However he will benefit from his experience out there. He is calm in front of goal, chooses the right method of shot on most parts, but lacks confidence. This is something I will talk about later. As he gets older and wiser, I think he is someone we could rely on to score 10-15 goals/season.
TACKLING. Nothing wrong with his tackling but he isn't someone who will get stuck in. It's just not in his nature. Instead he tries to read the game to avoid having to tackle. Again I will talk about this in my "tactical" section
Next I will look at the "tactical" aspects:
POSITIONING. Attacking-wise, the way he arrives into the box so late is reminiscent of Lampard or Meireles. He needs to improve this further but he reads the game so well. Defensively, as I mentioned, he is not going to make crunching tackles. Instead his reading of space ahead of his is very good and he can therefore win the ball back easily via interceptions. Off the ball he is very good. He seems to attract space which is the sign of a very mature footballer. Once he is able to execute his intentions in dangerous areas, is the time when we will see a firm LFC and England starter.
DECISION MAKING. Once he has the ball, more often than not he will pass it. Last season, he seemed to be very cautious. He has good vision but he seemed to always choose the back pass or sideways pass rather than a diagonal pass. This will improve under Rodgers' training set up especially since I expect to see so many triangles this season
Thirdly I will look at "physical" aspects:
PACE. Not rapid. Decent Acceleration with and without the ball. Once in flow he can go round players. Similar to Gerrard in this sense if you ask me.
NATURAL FITNESS. Anyone can look back on his fitness record. Very rarely injured. Expect to see him play 40+ games per season. Rodgers has already called him a "natural athlete"
STAMINA. Probably the strongest in the LFC squad. He can run EASILY for 90mins which potentially makes him a brilliant box to box central midfielder
STRENGTH. Not going to go into this so much as it is not as important under our new manager as it was our last. But He is 6foot2inches of good breadth. As he gets older he will put on natural aging muscle. I expect him to become somewhat of a unit.
Lastly I will consider "mental" aspects. This is hard to determine as a fan so
CONFIDENCE AND WILLINGNESS TO LEARN. Every manager has praised him for this. I'm not going to go into it. If we have a good manager, Jordan will learn a lot and become a very good player fast
CONFIDENCE AND BELIEF. This for me is his biggest downfall and something he has to and will improve upon. He has all the attributes to become a very good European-esque central midfielder. However he needs to add belief and confidence to his game. To pass the ball forward rather than back. To mix it up a bit and have the odd run at a defender. To have a shot and catch the keeper off guard. It is something I know he will get better at as we improve our style of play. Saying all this, he is captain of England U-21s which obviously says something about the lad-™s character.
Rodgers on Henderson:
'This kid can play football. If he is in a certain system - in an environment which is going to help him and educate him in the game - you will see that.
'The biggest thing for me that I've heard about Jordan is his attitude. He has got an incredible attitude.
'If you have got a player like that who has got the ability and the thirst to learn - he can run all day, he is physically good, he is strong, he is quick - and you can remodel him.'
Dalglish on Henderson
-œJordan is very mature for his age. He is respectful and his principles and everything else on and off the pitch are exemplary. Not only is he a talented footballer, he-™s a really good person as well. He loves his football and he is very appreciative of what Sunderland have done for him.-
Comolli on Henderson
We are very, very pleased. He has got all the skills technically that we needed. He-™s good with the ball, he-™s creative, he-™s got good passing, and he-™s physically very good. That-™s everything we wanted in a midfielder and he-™s versatile as well.-
Steve Bruce on Henderson during his Sunderland days
"We have got the brightest young prospect in the British game in Jordan. He is the best there is. At 20 he has the world at his feet. He is a fantastic footballer. He has got the lot. He is 6ft 2in and he covered nearly nine miles against Aston Villa. He never gives the ball away, he can tackle, he can run, he can do just about everything."
What is his best position? For me it is one of 2. Either in a box to box CM role or an AM midfielder role so long as there are 3 forwards and not 1 forward and 2 wingers. His stamina and reading of the game allow him to constantly press opposition into making mistakes and make simple passes in the final third of the pitch. His passing suggests his should play slightly further back in a "Xavi" role and keep play ticking by shifting the ball quickly. I just hope, and am sure, that this coming season, Henderson will not be pushed out wide. He is a central midfielder. With a lot of talent.
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