Heading into the off-season, set to lose their long-standing captain, some wondered how Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers would approach life after Steven Gerrard. According to Rodgers, though, given how well Jordan Henderson took to the role of vice-captain last season, there was no doubt in his mind that full time captaincy came next for the England international.
So far in pre-season, the 25-year-old midfielder has looked a natural at it, handling the pressure of becoming the face of the club on its pre-season tour of Australia and Southeast Asia and looking amongst the best players in the early going. Already, Henderson has seemed to take another step forward, with a larger, more commanding role on the pitch, and Rodgers says he expected nothing less.
"Once I saw him grow and develop as the vice-captain then I felt pretty sure that this would be the season he could be the captain," said the Liverpool manager. "He has taken to the role very well. He’s had a perfect role model in Stevie, [but] like I said to him when I told him he would eventually be the captain, 'have your own ideas, have your own ways of doing it and do it your way.’"
Despite a lot of hand-wringing in some quarters, the early signs are that Liverpool have managed a fairly smooth transition to life after Steven Gerrard, though the real test will come in two weeks when the season kicks off with a trip to Stoke City. So far, though, Rodgers is happy with how things have gone, and he’s looking forward to seeing what Henderson does with the captaincy.
"It was on my mind last season when I was aware that Stevie was going to be moving on," said Rodgers. "I wanted to look at someone who would be a great ambassador on and off the field because it’s not just about captaining Liverpool—you have a huge responsibility for the players and supporters. He’s an outstanding player and I think you’ll see him really blossom with the captaincy."
Rodgers, meanwhile, says he has some thoughts on who will become Henderson’s vice-captain, but he’s not ready yet to share them with the world. While there are a few strong contenders, for most, the early favourites are Martin Skrtel and James Milner, the club’s two most veteran outfield presences and both players who will be expected to start most of the time when fit.
"I haven’t announced anything yet or spoken to the players on it," said Rodgers, "but I’ve got an idea who I’d want it to be."
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