It’s an odd position for Jordan Henderson to be in as captain of Liverpool. On the one hand, he’s captain of Liverpool. On the other hand, his tenure with the armband has come immediately after the tenure of Liverpool super legend, Steven Gerrard. Henderson gets the same level of criticism that other players do when performances are poor but he also gets the ‘our captain should be more super-legendy’ criticisms.
On Wednesday, Henderson made the mistake of allowing Jürgen Klopp to add his name to the bench list and hand over the armband to Philippe Coutinho for the Champions League victory over Spartak Moscow at Anfield. A move that many are already calling ‘not very super-legendy at all.”
During today’s pre-Everton press conference, Klopp was asked if his captain’s exclusion from that match was a sign of the times, a signal that Henderson’s standing at the club was now no different than any of these other run-of-the-mill professional football players. It gets good.
“I’m not sure if it’s an English thing or old-fashioned thing or whatever, but even a captain cannot play all the time,” Klopp fired back. “That’s how it is. It is like this. You cannot bring him in only because of the armband.
“He is in a good moment, in good shape, but for this game I made a decision for that and I thought it makes real sense in these kind of weeks. You need the players on the pitch to know one hundred per cent what a derby is about. That makes sense, I would say.”
After the Spartak match, Klopp made a point in his post match musings of saying that Henderson would play in the derby, was important for the derby. But, as often happens, the German manager is perplexed by the English media’s fascination with creating something out of nothing. He then, thankfully, proceeded to use some choice language on the live broadcast.
“I made the decision for the last game,” Klopp said, “and I only spoke about it because I knew people would say, ‘oh yes, fantastic game, Jordan didn’t play’ and then make a shit story of it.”
He offered a quick apology to someone standing off camera but then, thankfully, doubled down on the accusation.
“But they are shit stories. I cannot change that. Tell me another word for it.”
It’s an excellent moment and Klopp followed it up nicely with high praise for captain Hendo.
“He is such an important player for us,” added Klopp. “I don’t get it, why I have to say that. But I live in this city and I know, I get it a little bit, how people sometimes are talking about it.
“Being skipper of Liverpool is the hardest job in world football because the man who had the armband before is Steven Gerrard. Sorry, he finished playing football and we cannot get him back.
“I want that everybody respects that Jordan Henderson is our skipper because he deserved it, because he is the right man for the job and all that stuff.
“But it doesn’t mean he can play all of the games until he is injured. It’s actually no story. But in England, especially in Liverpool, it is a story.
“And now I’ve said a little bit about it. Story done.”