From overpriced flop to the man who got Andre Villas-Boas sacked, a week has made a world of difference in how the average football fan sees Jordan Henderson. As with most overnight revelations, his reputation as a solid midfielder with a promising future has been growing steadily for much of the season, while for many Liverpool fans the clear promise in Henderson's game has been clear since he first arrived at the club.
Still, what a difference a week makes. Now he just has to live up to Match of the Day-fuelled expectations he can perform like a 23-year-old Steven Gerrard every week from here to the end of the season or it's right back to hanging the weight of a £16M transfer fee—that is more often than nor reported as £20M by those looking for a stick to beat Henderson and Liverpool with—around his neck.
“It’s all down to him; nobody else," insisted Rodgers before revealing he hadn't been impressed by Henderson's tactical game before arriving at the club. "I saw him play for England against France a few years ago, and I felt sorry for him. He was a young boy, a big talent, but the game just passed him by tactically. That wasn’t his fault, [but] when I came into the club, he was a player I’d heard had a brilliant attitude—and that’s what I found.
Despite starting out as surplus to the new manager's requirements, Henderson impressed Rodgers by telling him he wanted to stay at Liverpool and fight for his minutes. And that first season under Rodgers certainly was a struggle, with Joe Allen preferred to Henderson in almost every situation regardless of form or the later's increasingly limiting shoulder injury. Having persevered, though, he now finds himself close to undroppable.
“He’s a terrific player," added the manager, who recently credited Kenny Dalglish with a good piece of business for buying Henderson despite that his rather high initial fee has been a stumbling block for many. "He just needs confidence and constant work. He’s been outstanding for me. He’s a mentally tough boy, he’s very strong, and he’s great to work with. He will get better and better.”
To the consternation of many, when Rodgers first arrived at the club with impressions of a young player he hadn't been impressed by at the front of his mind, he tried to send the midfielder to Fulham along with cash in exchange for Clint Dempsey. This time around, those who have seen Henderson as a hugely promising talent since he first arrived at Liverpool will be in full agreement with the manager.