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Jordan Henderson: "It Is About Winning a Trophy"

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Although the Jordan Henderson understands the importance of his first final as Liverpool captain, winning on Sunday is all that matters.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

There are lots of narrative options for the discerning fan to choose on Sunday. The Capital One Cup final presents Liverpool with an opportunity to win a first trophy in the Jürgen Klopp era. There's also the fact that the Reds haven't won any silverware since Kenny Dalglish won the very same competition four years ago. It's easy to miss the importance of Jordan Henderson, but the industrious midfielder will be hoping to mark his first season as club captain with a trophy.

Succeeding Steven Gerrard is no easy task. The aura and charismatic personality that Klopp possesses provides the club with leadership and a clear figurehead at the club, but Henderson is still growing in the role as leader. His injury struggles have limited his time on the pitch, something that doesn't seem to be part of the former Sunderland midfielder's physical DNA. Jordan Henderson runs and runs and runs game after game without injuries or fatigue. That's just what he does, or at least, that's what  the last six seasons in the North West and North East have demonstrated.

Liverpool captains have generally won trophies or made an impression as a leader, usually both. Although Klopp was pleased to see his captain return to action in December, the Swabian hasn't yet seen the best of a consummate professional. Henderson is aware that he could lift a trophy on Sunday and become another Liverpool captain with a trophy to his name. Some fans remain unconvinced about his leadership qualities, and if Manchester City emerge triumphant, Henderson's capabilities and role may be called into question.

"You will always be judged as a Liverpool player but, as a captain, you will be judged on what you win, basically," Henderson stated. If you're doing well and the team is winning everything, you become a very good captain. At the other end if you're not playing so well, if you're not winning trophies, you will be judged differently. I knew that before I took on the role.

"It's a big occasion not only for me but for the players and the club, although the final is not about me and whether I am a good captain or not. It is about winning a trophy. It doesn't make any difference to me who lifts it, I would just rather win."

It's not just about Henderson. The captain rightly acknowledges that the club comes first, but a serious impediment to winning any trophy is the maddening inconsistency Liverpool have displayed under Klopp. While it's understandable considering the squad's adaptation to a different way of working, there is uncertainty as to how good the squad actually is. Henderson, however, is convinced of the squad's ability ahead of his biggest game as captain.

"I'd say that's our biggest problem this season, we have been too inconsistent at times," admits Henderson. "I don't know if there's any clear explanation. We've been playing to extremes. When you are producing brilliant performances and winning five or six, as we have done, but then go and put in a poor performance within a week or two, it isn't good enough.

"I wouldn't say it's a lack of ability. If you're beating City and winning by five or six then the ability is there. Maybe, I don't know, it's mentality, concentration, doing it for longer periods, confidence as well. If you're winning games the confidence flows and you gain a rhythm, which I've experienced before. We are not far away from that. We are a bit up and down, but once we focus on what we need to do I really believe we can beat anyone."

By the time Liverpool play Tottenham Hotspur at the start of April, league games against Manchester City (home), Crystal Palace (away), and Southampton (away) will have come and gone. The issue of whether Liverpool can best Manchester United in Europe will have been settled too. Before all that is the matter of the League Cup final, and with it, a chance for Henderson to step forward as club captain and lead in his own way.