The Curious Case Of Jordan Henderson 

Six years ago today, we signed a fresh faced, 20 year old Jordan Henderson signed for Liverpool FC as a talented, yet raw midfielder from Sunderland.

To call the following 2 years ‘difficult’ would be an understatement. From adjusting to a massive club like Liverpool, to trying to find his ideal position of winger, or central attacking midfielder, or defensive mid, confusion and debate followed Henderson wherever he went.

In my opinion, the turning point came in December 2013 where Liverpool faced Spurs. The Reds had already lost a few games that first half-season, but were still near the top of the table. Suarez had finished his ban and there was something in the air signalling that Liverpool were on the cusp of something special. 

Jordan Henderson turned in a brilliant performance, smashing Tottenham 0-5 at White Hart Lane.

The game is most remembered however for 2 things, 1) Suarez scoring twice and 2) “Oh fuck off, even Flanagan scored” – being the famous tweet from a disgruntled Spurs fan. 

What the rest of us saw, however, was the emergence of who would be our future captain. This image below somewhat personifies to me Henderson holding up his fist in defiance of his critics over recent years. It was his declaration of “I deserve to be here”.

With Steven Gerrard leaving the club at the end of the 14/15 season, the club announced on July 2015 that Jordan Henderson would be appointed the new club captain. 

Despite being critical in one of our most exciting season to date in 13/14, he was still met with criticism over his ability to lead our club. 

I was privileged to witness the new captain in the flesh during the LFC Tour of Queensland and South Australia in 2015, and what I saw was a man who was a born leader. The players all have huge respect for him. He was front and centre of everything from training, to media events, to public events… he is the man. He didn’t shy away from any engagement, question, or ask of the club from a commercial perspective. 

When it came to game-time, he was leading out the players to warm up, rallying them for a ‘meaningless’ pre-season game on the other side of the world and commanding the club from the front. 

The 15/16 season started fairly terribly to say the last, with Rodgers surviving only 8 games before being replaced by Klopp. The spotlight was once again on Henderson. Would Klopp retain him? He had his critics with some saying that Klopp would certainly see him surplus to requirements and take the captaincy off him at the minimum.

To the surprise of some, Klopp came out in equal defiance and stated that Jordan is the club captain and would stay as such. For the following games, Klopp kept his word and stuck by Henderson, making him an integral part of the play, albeit in a more reserved position on the pitch.  

For years, Jordan’s primary asset was seen as his ability to run all game, harass the opposition, win the ball back and launch attacks. Klopp had different plans. He wanted to use Henderson’s game intelligence and turn him into a defensive midfielder/quarter-back to run games.  

Henderson’s first season was met with mixed results and form, but overall, he kept a solid fan base that valued what he brought to the squad.

The 16/17 year came about, and after a few heel injuries and mixed form, Henderson declared that this was the season where he would need to ‘prove himself again’ to the fans, and he certainly did that. 

By Christmas 2016, Liverpool had the deadliest attack in the land, much due to the passing range and vision of Jordan Henderson, keeping the ball moving and feeding the likes of Lallana, Mane, Firmino and Coutinho. Henderson’s passing stats were in Europe’s elite, completing the 4th most passes of any playing in their continent.

 In contrast to this, Henderson’s main club ‘rival’ for his position, Emre Can, was badly off form. This only further led to fans being in awe of the captain’s rise in stature. 

Then disaster struck.

In February 2017, after a torrid month of average results for the club, Henderson succumbed to another foot/heel injury, which at the time seemed only minor in nature. Emre Can was forced (despite also having his own calf injuries) to cover for Henderson and slowly grew into that role. 

By April, Klopp was stating that Henderson was due for a return, only for his absence to be widely reported by journalists. What was going on? Some, including myself, were worried that Sir Alex Ferguson’s original concerned about Henderson’s running style were coming to fruition. 

Klopp stated in late April that Henderson “look healthy, but can’t play football”, only to add to the speculation around his future.

So where does that leave the Liverpool captain? What could have been of this season if he was healthy throughout? With an out-of-form/Injured Emre Can in our squad and only Lucas as additional cover, our 4th place finish this season could have been seriously in doubt if Henderson wasn’t available for the first half of the season.

We are now in the quandary of Emre Can yet to sign a contract extension, and no definitive news that Henderson’s heel injury is permanently fixed. Where does that leave our club? Do we actively search for a full-time defensive midfielder, giving them some level of assurances that they’ll play the majority of the season even if Henderson/Can are fit, or do we stick with our current team members?

Let me know your thoughts, what should the club do? Buy another player as a full-time defensive mid, or feel that Emre/Jordan with Lucas as backup is enough?  

Written by Nish Veer (@PodcastingCouch)

One To Worry About

At the start of the season if you were to ask me if Simon Mignolet would be Liverpool’s number one goalkeeper I probably would have asked you what are you smoking.

Mignolet’s career at Liverpool is littered with mistakes, his inability to clear crosses and make simple mistakes have cost Liverpool time and time again. When the 2015/2016 season finished, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp wasted no time in bringing in a new goalkeeper and declared he was his new number one. 

This was no ordinary goalkeeper, Klopp brought in, he was voted the second best goalkeeper in Germany by his peers last season,  finishing behind Manuel Neuer, which in itself is nothing to be ashamed of.

All was set for the new season, Mignolet had been ousted by a new younger contender and the centre of defence had been improved with the capture of Jöel Matip. As we all know though, football is a funny old game. 

The young contender to date has turned out to be the second coming of Mignolet and if tings don’t improve for him, his career at Anfield could be over, before it even starts.  

Loris Karius, hasn’t set the Premier Legaue alight. He has fallen in to the Mignolet bracket of not being able to do the simple things right and because of this some fans have doubted his ability and his longevity at Liverpool. 

Karius’s case isn’t being helped by the fact that young Welsh goalkeeper Danny Ward has done so well at Huddersfield this season. Ward is undoubtedly one for the future, a goalkeeper who has impressed no matter where he’s gone. And it’s only a matter of time before he’s pushing for the number in spot at Liverpool.

Some will say, Ward isn’t just ready to challenge but, being close to the same age as Karius, it’s only a matter of time before he’s given his chance to impress.  

With Ward in such fine form, Karius, for me is the one with the most to lose. This off season, he has to somehow recapture the form that saw him get a move to Liverpool last season. 

He needs to show Klopp that he has the ability to permentally keep Mignolet on the Liverpool bench, if not he could find himself been the one on loan next season with Ward and Mignolet fighting it out for the number one jersey at Liverpool. 

If not, I would like to see Ward move to a Premier League club on loan next season. My club of preference would be Newcastle United, simply because of the Rafa Benitez effect.  He’s the one manager in the league I trust to bring Ward on to the next level. 

Written by @TheMoanyOne

Lucas Levia To Testimonial Or Not

Lucas Levia – be objective, there’s four words I just can’t do. Over the last week or so a question has been asked on social media; does Lucas Levia deserve a testimonial match at the end of this season. Surprisingly the simple answer is yes.

Why? Well it’s simple, he’s been at the club 10 years and has played under 5 managers with somewhat distinction, has never sullied the name of the club and most importantly of all, the club owes it to him.

I’m having none of the whole he’s not good enough for a testimonial match, bullshit, the facts are simple;

  1. He’s played at Liverpool for 10 years
  2. Since 2007 he has played to date 342 games for Liverpool FC
  3. He has played (fooled) arguably two of the greatest managers to ever manage Liverpool in to thinking he is a professional footballer
  4. While the fans might not like him, he’s highly respected by his peers

If Lucas stays at Liverpool next season, he will be in his 11th season at Liverpool having signed from Grēmio in 2007, so technically he falls in to the category of having a testimonial and if he’s sold (please god) in the summer, after 10 years service at the club, I still think he deserves a testimonial.

I hear you say John Barnes was 10 years at the club and didn’t get one, same with Sami Hyypia, what’s so different about Lucas. Nothing. There’s nothing different about him. Nothing special at all. The fact that he’s still a Liverpool player baffles me. 

The only difference between Lucas, Barnes and Hyypia is this, of Lucas stays for an extra 365 days at Liverpool he’d have stayed 365 days longer than either Barnes or Hyypia and would be more deserving than them of a testimonial. 

Look I’m not going to pretend Lucas is world class, we, as fans all know how bad a player Lucas is, on his worst days, it’s like Liverpool are playing against 12 men. At his best, Lucas doesn’t commit a stupid foul that leads to a goal. 

I’m not one for normally slating players, but Lucas, for me should have been sold ahead of the likes of Javier Mascherano, Momo Sissoko and Xabi Alonso, 3 players that fortified the Liverpool midfield in the last 10 years. 

In saying all that, 342 games at the one club is an impressive stat for any player, not many players in the modern Premier League era amass that many games for one club, let alone stay with one for 10 years.
In the time Lucas has spent at Liverpool, only 2 players have been longer servants at the club than him and both those players are from Liverpool.

You can argue that Lucas’s time at Liverpool hasn’t been a success, but is that down to Lucas or the players around him? After all, he can only play with what’s beside him. 

He’s not the type of player to go on a mazy run and beat 5 or 6 players but he’s finished second in the Premier League twice, being to a Europa League final, won a domestic trophy and visited Wembley on a few occasions.

For a player of Lucas’s calibre, I think looking back at that, he’s done very well for himself. He’s also played with some of the worlds best players while at Liverpool.

While Lucas is no world beater, apart from Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher, has any other Liverpool player served the club with such distinction over the last 10 years?  

If there is let me know because they are few and far between, and this is the main reason I’d like to see Lucas get a much deserved testimonial. 

Written by @TheMoanyOne 

What A Man, Mamadou Is.

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, actually it’s been a while since I’ve written about Liverpool full stop. 

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/mamadou-sakho-previous-handshake-celebrations-12936570

Unfortunately life has gotten in my way and the site has suffered because of it. I’ve tried to get articles from people but if I’m not bothered with it this weather, why should anyone else be.

Anyways back to this topic. The one, the only Mamadou Sakho. 

Liverpool lost to Crystal Palace last weekend 2-1, thanks to in part, mistakes by Dejan Lovren, Natanial Clyne and James Milner but all the mistakes were forgotten thanks to Sakho

I love Sakho, both as a player and as a person. He always seems to want to do the right thing, but at times, it seems he try’s to hard and it backfires on him.

If he leaves Liverpool this summer, his career at Liverpool will be remembered as a failure, a failed drugs test, an embarrassing trip to America and a hand gesture with ex Liverpool striker Christian Benteke has all sullied the career of for me Liverpool’s best centre back in the last 10 years.

Like many Liverpool fans I was hoping for a Joël Matip and Mamadou Sakho centre back partnership this season. 

Both players are big and strong and capable of playing from the back. Something it seemed Jürgen Klopp expected from all his players but especially from his back four. 

Alas, it never happened. Sakho failed a drugs test after the Manchester United quarter final win in last years Europa League and immediately withdrew himself from contention as a Liverpool player while his B sample was being tested, for me that was the right thing to do. 

As the sample fiasco raged on, it turned out that Sakho was innocent. He hadn’t failed a drugs test and UEFA were wrong.
Sakho, who was recovering from a hamstring injury accompanied Klopp and the Liverpool first team on their role season tour of America. 

All was looking well for Sakho, he was back where he belonged and it looked as if Liverpool finally had two quality centre backs and with Loris Karius in goal the holes of previous years looked plugged.

Then, Alcatraz happened and Sakho shot himself in the foot. His childish and immature behaviour has become too much for Klopp and Sakho was banished home to Liverpool to work on his fitness in the gym alongside Mario Ballotelli.

Banished to the U-23’s for the first half of this season, Sakho, worked hard, helped the management and the coaches with the young players and led by example.

It had it seemed learned from his mistakes in the summer and instead of being the class clown, he focused on his football. 

With injuries to Lovren, Matip and Ragnar Klaven, it was scripted that Sakho would come back in to the team and save the day but Klopp had different plans. He drafted in Lucas and the rest as they say is history. 

Back to last weekends defeat. Liverpool’s fragile mentality against the lesser teams and Palace in fairness made them pay for their frailty. 

Benteke came back to haunt Liverpool scoring 2 goals but it was his celebration alongside Sakho that irked a lot of the Liverpool faithful.

Many called Sakho out for it and Liverpool fans being Liverpool fans resorted to abusing the player.

In my opinion Sakho did nothing wrong. Whilst he is still technically a Liverpool player, he is currently on loan with Palace. Liverpool still hold his registration but he is currently contracted to Palace. His team scored an important equaliser and he celebrated, its as simple as that. 

I’m not arsed by it, some said it showed defiance to Liverpool and was disrespectful to both Jürgen Klopp and the Liverpool fan base I don’t think so. For me it would have been worse if he didn’t celebrate it. 

What Klopp has to decide on now is this, does he forgive Sakho for what happened last season and let things lie or does he blow £50 million on Virgil Van Dijk? For me I hope it’s the first one but my gut says it’s the latter.


Written by @TheMoanyOne

Instagrams chosen XI from 1985

As a Liverpool fan. I have seen many players come and go since I started to support Liverpool.

So I took to Instagram to to see what their thoughts where and who should make the top XI which included seven substititutes, a manager and a captain.

So of course I started with the goal keeper

The Best Of The Rest

E-mail this article

Author: Mikey O’Brien  

      

Some Liverpol supporters have gotten frustrated with the club’s failure to sign marquee players in the transfer market. Mikey O’Brien gives us some players from the Premier League outside the Top 7 – and who he thinks will suit the Reds.

I know a lot of Liverpool fans have grown tired of our tendency to shop from other Premier League teams lower down the table than ourselves. On many occasions in the past, we’ve signed the supposedly better players from lesser sides hoping that the extra quality we’d be able to put around them would take their game to a new level, often to no avail.

Whilst no new signings are guaranteed to succeed regardless of where they’re brought in from, in the last 5-6 years we’ve seen the likes of Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Andy Carroll and Christian Benteke predictably fail, whilst the likes of Joe Allen, Simon Mignolet and Dejan Lovren have been far from outright successes.

Despite such an approach perhaps representing a lack of ambition and to a certain extent, lazy scouting, in certain instances buying domestically has its benefits, with arguably our 2 best signings of last summer coming from Southampton and Newcastle; Henderson, Lallana and Clyne have all made significant positive contributions since joining the club too.

For each of the positions which most fans seem to agree need strengthening in the forthcoming window, i’ve chosen 1 player from a club outside the EPL’s top 7 who could add something to our squad for next season. Here are my selections for GK, CB and LB.

GK – Jack Butland – Stoke

It’s fair to say I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice as far as this position is concerned, but Butland is an exceptionally gifted young player.

My major concern with regards to Butland is that he’s been out injured for 51 weeks, meaning he certainly wouldn’t be joining in ideal circumstances. Unlike with outfielders it’s difficult to ease goalkeepers back into the fold as consistency between the sticks is vital. With so much at stake in each of Liverpool’s league games, perhaps it would be better for Butland to prove his fitness and get back up to speed playing for a Stoke side who, with all due respect, are destined for a mid-table finish.

I’d still be more willing to take a gamble on Butland’s physical state than go for the some of the other players people will likely point towards, though. Ability and profile wise, he’s the stand-out. We’re the smallest side in the league along with Man City, so having a 6”5 goalkeeper who’s shown he can dominate his penalty area would help compensate when teams target our lack of aerial prowess from open play and set pieces. Butland is also, like Karius, a natural at coming off his line and acting as a sweeper keeper, if anything showing an over eagerness to rush out, and he’s a very adept shot stopper.

I can’t help but feel that the likes of Sunderland’s much talked about Jordan Pickford and Burnley’s Tom Heaton are made to look better than they really are as they’re peppered with shots every game, giving them more opportunities to make spectacular, Match of the Day worthy saves. I have doubts as to whether or not Pickford, who’s only 6”1, would be able to deal with the crosses that teams frequently put in against us, and there’s not much evidence to suggest that either are quick off their line or can distribute effectively.

Let’s not forget that Mignolet, like Pickford, looked good playing for the Black Cats prior to signing for us, but since 2013 his all round ability has been shown up as he’s been asked to do a wider variety of things.

Arguably the best goalkeeper outside of the top 7 is Leicester’s Kasper Schmeichel, but again he’s 6”1, and thus perhaps not the type of keeper we’re in need of. At 30, he’s tried and tested, and rather than signing a keeper just 1 year older than Karius, someone more experienced to give the German time to adapt before becoming our number 1 may make more sense. Butland is hardly error prone though, and Karius and Butland competing for both a short and long term place would be intriguing to witness.

CB – Ben Gibson – Middlesbrough

It would be too obvious to say Virgil van Dijk, without doubt the player most worth pursuing if we were actually restricted to targeting players plying their trade in England (and Swansea). Keeping hold of Mamadou Sakho when his loan spell at Crystal Palace comes to an end in May also doesn’t count for the purposes of this article, despite my eagerness to see him and Klopp settle their differences this summer.

Ben Gibson would be a decent acquisition, though, and whether we like to admit it or not, acquiring the Middlesbrough man is a far more realistic prospect than seeing either van Dijk or Sakho pull on an LFC shirt in 2017/18.

Trying to select a CB from teams between 8th and 20th is especially difficult as the sides that are relatively solid, e.g. West Brom, tend to sit quite deep, playing a direct or counter attacking brand of football. Their centre backs have protection in front of them and from their full backs either side, and would be horribly exposed if put in our team. On the other hand, the ones that try to play expansively, in a style more comparable to that which Jurgen Klopp implements, the likes of Bournemouth, Swansea and West Ham for example, concede an absolute bucketload. West Ham’s Winston Reid and Angelo Ogbonna possess all the physical attributes you could ask for but are too rash and often lose concentration.

Gibson, however, whilst playing for a defensive minded Middlesbrough outfit, has shown throughout this season, and perhaps with greater certainty than our current crop of central defenders, that he can perform the basics of defending consistently and reliably, making no defensive errors of note this season. Our centre backs have shown a tendency to make a hash of situations unrelated to the high line they find themselves in.

Middlesbrough’s backline has chopped and changed too, with Gibson having to play alongside 3 different partners so far this campaign, and whilst Aitor Karanka set his teams up incredibly negatively, the likes of Bernardo, Barragan and Fabio are hardly defensive rocks, in fact appearing suspect to say the least whenever I’ve watched them. Clayton and Forshaw are also naturally more forward thinking midfielders, so Gibson has still had to take on a lot of defensive responsibility, lead, and has been the key to Middlesbrough boasting a better defensive record than both Liverpool and Arsenal so far this season.

Also, whilst he may not have had the chance to properly demonstrate his pace and his ability to defend in space, putting him in the same boat as the likes of Burnley’s Michael Keane, one stand out quality that Gibson possesses is his composure/ability with the ball at his feet. He rarely looses possession, even when put under real pressure, passing progressively, and is adept at striding out of defence and into the midfield. He’s only 6’1, however, and i’m adamant that we should be looking to add height to our team rather than take it away, but at just 24 and being left footed, he’d make a better buy than any of the alternatives.

LB – Ryan Bertrand – Southampton

This was a pretty easy one.

Bertrand plays for a Southampton side who’ve shown their defensive capabilities against Liverpool 3 times this season, not conceding a single goal across 270 minutes of football, as well as in a number of other matches. He’s played a significant part in them boasting the second best defensive record of all the teams under consideration here. He rarely gets caught out positionally when asked to play more conservatively, and is a lot quicker and more energetic than our current left back James Milner, allowing him to recover when players do get in behind down his side. He’s exceptional at dealing with one on ones too.

Southampton certainly aren’t a team that always sit back, and he’s shown his attacking prowess on multiple occasions this campaign and in recent years. For example, he was one of the stand out performers in Southampton’s recent League Cup final, causing Man Utd no end of problems as he continuously looked to overlap and provide width as Nathan Redmond cut infield. He’s provided the same number of assists as Milner and Clyne combined (5) in the EPL this season, despite playing 9 less games than them both, and has scored 2 goals from open play, with Milner and Clyne managing 0 apiece.

Aaron Cresswell, his injury troubles aside, is a good player too, but again, at 5”7 he’s lacking in the heigh department, and Andrew Robertson looks talented but we need reliability. Also, if we’re still worried about players not being able to make the step up and handle the pressure that comes with playing for a club like Liverpool, it’s worth noting that Bertrand started in and won a Champions League final with Chelsea against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, coming up against a right hand side of Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm. Doesn’t get much bigger than that.

Written by Mikey O’Brien (@MikeyO_BrienLFC)

Match Preview – Manchester City vs Liverpool

With ten games remaining of the season, one can easily call the two next games those that provide Liverpoolwith the toughest opposition. First up Manchester City at Etihad, then next up Everton at Anfield. 

Manchester City has lots of more games behind them this season, doing fairly well in domestic cup tournaments and taken part in the Champions League, where AS Monaco just defeated them 3-1 at Stade Louis II in Monaco on Wednesday.

Manchester City will be meeting Liverpool with lots of tred legs at Etihad. I believe there will be some rotating by the Man City manager Pep Guardiola for this game, Yaya Touré and Pablo Zabaleta probably starting this game and then maybe also Kelechi Iheanacho and/or Jesus Navas starting as the Champions League game against the French Ligue 1 leaders Monaco Wednesday evening was quite a hard test for lots of City players. 

Gabriel Jesus is still injured, as for the rest of the squad there are no injuries to talk of. 

In that sense, things are looking better for Liverpool as well. Dejan Lovren is match fit now, as is Marko Grujic. 


What is clear is, Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge are injured and will not play the next game at Etihad. I am along with some famous pundits also wondering what is going on with Nathaniel Clyne and Philippe Coutinho who both seem to be out of form. 

Could this provide the likes of Trent Alexander Arnold and Sheyi Ojo with an opportunity? I don’t think so, but it is fair enough to ask the question. 

Klopp shall have to be worried about minor injuries up front, too. Both Roberto Firmino and Divock Origi has picked up small injuries. Firmino has been training just a little and will probably start the game at Etihad. 

Both Liverpool and Man City has experienced lots of problems in the defence this season. 

I believe we are going to witness a game in which both Guardiola and Klopp will urge their players to put a lot of pressure on the opposition defence, as this area is the weakness of both teams. 

This game will be a high intensity affair. Manchester City has a lot of tired legs after Wednesday evening’smatch in Monaco while Liverpool has had time to train and relax. 

Head-To-Head: Previous meetings 

Liverpool beat Manchester City 1-0 at Anfield earlier on this season (31 December 2016)

We met with Man City three times in the 2015/16 season, losing the League Cup final at Wembley on penalties after a 1-1 draw. In the league, however, we won 3-0 at Anfield and 4-1 at Etihad. 

2014/15 results: Man City 3-1 Liverpool (Etihad), Liverpool 2-1 Manchester City (Anfield) 

Predicted starting line-ups

Manchester City: Caballero – Zabaleta, Stones, Otamendy, Clichy – Touré, Silva – Sterling, De Bruyne, Sané – Agüero 

Liverpool: Mignolet – Clyne, Matip, Klavan, Milner – Can – Lallana, Wijnaldum – Mané, Firmino, Coutinho 

What to expect or hope for

This will be a great match. I believe we’re going to see lots of chances created in front of both goals at Etihad. 

Then, who knows what might be the outcome after 90 minutes? Win, lose or draw? Hard to tell, but we certainly all hope for a good game and a victory. 

Because of Manchester City’s loss at Stade Louis II Wednesday evening, I believe Guardiola is going to be worried about the fitness of an ageing Man City squad, and consequently do a bit of rotation now. This should give Liverpool an advantage. 

I believe Liverpool is going to win this game at Etihad. I however do not believe Klopp is going to say anything like «Boom!!!» in his post-match press conference, though. 

Written by @magneleokarlsen