For Liverpool and for England both, Jordan Henderson is a player people seem determined to question. For fans and pundits alike, whether he deserves the key role one manager after another seems to give him is a topic of endless debate.
So far at least, no matter what others say or thing Henderson keeps getting his chances. And, more often than not, he proves his managers right by putting in solid and assured—if not often, to be fair, spectacular—performances.
“It’s no surprise to me,” was ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s take after Henderson’s latest solid and assured performance, for England against Tunisia, after another week of fans and pundits asking questions about his England role.
“He’s had his criticism over the years, Jordan, but obviously I’ve worked very closely with him and not only is he a fabulous player, he’s a great kid as well. He lives his life for the game, so it’s great to see him doing so well.”
In the end, Gerrard believes it comes down to Henderson being a player willing and able to do the hard work managers love—but not bringing the kind of highlight-reel flash that fans are always desperate to see in a player.
As long as there’s a need for hard working, tactically astute players, though, he’ll get his chances to play a key role for both club and country. And as long as there are more creative players in front of him, Gerrard thinks that’s a recipe for success.
“I think he’s going to keep growing and growing and become a top player,” Gerrard added. “I think with Jordan, at Liverpool with the armband people expect him to go and get 15, 20 goals. He’s not that type of player. He’s a workhorse.
“He does a lot of unnoticed work, he’s a grafter in there, and at the same time he uses the ball very, very well. So if you judge Jordan Henderson on those jobs, what he’s asked to do, he does a fantastic job in my opinion.”