It's easy to forget the amount of overhaul Liverpool experienced last summer; Kenny Dalglish was gone, Brendan Rodgers was on his way in, and four of the five signings from the past year seemed set for exits. Craig Bellamy's heart (and family) were in Wales, Charlie Adam clearly didn't fit in Rodgers' plans, Andy Carroll would suffer a similar fate, and both Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson were set to depart. The latter came closest, shopped relentlessly in the final days of the transfer window, most notably as a makeweight in the failed approach to Fulham for Clint Dempsey. And now, less than ten months later, his Liverpool future appears far more secure, solidified by a string of performances that saw him become Liverpool's most consistent and reliable midfielder.
His efforts haven't gone unnoticed by Steven Gerrard, who's marveled at the 22 year old's workrate and commitment to pushing forward:
"I see a lot of good things in Jordan. The main thing is his attitude and mentality. He wants to play every game and wants to work in every training session, and everything he does it aimed towards the next game. He is such a good professional which, for a player of his age, is very rare. He is only going to become better and better. Once Jordan started to believe in himself and gain confidence, he has really come on. He is playing in a position I did when I was younger. But even as captain, I don't have to say much to Jordan. He know I'm always there to bounce things off, but he just gets on with it."
There's little doubt that Henderson is among the squad's hardest workers, and for a club who's struggled at times to shake a longstanding sense of indifference, it's an absolutely critical quality. It's why we so enjoy watching Luis Suarez (most of the time)--the effort's never in doubt, and while the moments of magic don't hurt, the unquestioned willingness to do whatever it takes for the team to be successful can lift both the squad and supporters. I'm a sucker for triers.
It can't all be about trying, of course, and what's made Henderson's season so encouraging is that he's added quality in areas of need. Better in the final third, more incisive on the ball, and firmer in the challenge without it, he's become more well-rounded over the past year, and there's nothing to indicate that he can't kick on into next season with more of the same.