Out of favour first with some fans and then his new manager, three goals in his last five appearances since returning to the starting eleven sees Jordan Henderson enjoying some of the best form of his Liverpool career, once again making a strong case that he should be near the top of Brendan Rodgers' teamsheet.
According to Henderson, he owes his newfound scoring prowess and improved standing at least in part to learning to be a little more selfish. It all started in November, when Liverpool took on Anzhi Makhachkala in the group stages of the Europa League and Henderson passed up a clear scoring chance in favour of playing the ball square.
Unfortunately, with only the goalkeeper blocking his route to the goal and multiple defenders covering the pass, that unselfish play always seemed the option with the lower chance of success. And sure enough, his pass was picked off and the opportunity wasted—and Liverpool lost the match one goal to nil.
"The Villa one was more clear-cut," Henderson explained of his chipped goal that helped Liverpool to a 2-1 victory over the West Midlands club at the end of March and kicked off his recent run of good form. "I was one-on-one with the 'keeper, whereas against Anzhi I was coming in at an angle [but] I still should have shot.
"I thought there were others better placed [at the time], but it was the wrong decision, a bad decision. I was too unselfish. After that, I thought that I needed to be more selfish in front of goal."
Henderson will probably always be the sort of player who looks to pass first, and for his role in midfield that's probably a good thing. But a little more selfishness in and around the box has clearly done the player—and the entire team—a world of good, bringing with it a scoring threat from midfield the club didn't have to start the season.
"I've been a Liverpool player a little longer now, you get to know people better, how everyone else plays and that is a big part of it," he added, looking to further explain his growing confidence at the club. "But maybe it's just hard work. If you look at Stevie and Carra, who've been at Liverpool all their lives, they still work as hard as anyone in training.
"They never ease off. They never hold back. They have their foot right down every day, going for it in whatever they do. I was brought up to believe that if you work hard you'll get your just rewards. That's what I try to do."
If Henderson can continue his current form over the final three games of the season, it's hard to imagine he won't deserve to have his name at least penciled in as one of next season's starters. Some may always doubt him, but on current form there are few at the club who more deserve to be thought of as locks for the starting eleven.
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