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Sir Alex Ferguson Clarifies Past Criticism of Jordan Henderson

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The former Manchester United manager explained why Henderson’s running style gave him pause when he wanted to sign the midfielder.

Liverpool FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Most people who supported Liverpool in 2013 will remember when Sir Alex Ferguson criticized Jordan Henderson’s running style in his second autobiography. The longtime Manchester United manager speculated that Henderson’s apparently unconventional gait might even lead to injury problems down the line.

“We noticed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight back, while the modern footballer runs from his hips,” said Ferguson in his book. “We thought his gait might cause him problems later in his career.”

The comments from United’s recently retired manager about the Liverpool midfielder caused great consternation among supporters at the time and even led to some criticism of the Scotsman from manager Brendan Rodgers. He saw the comments as unnecessary, wrong, and potentially damaging to hear for a young footballer.

Seven years on, Ferguson has finally added some clarity to his thoughts on Henderson’s running, and they paint a more positive picture of his opinion towards the English international than his original comments.

Speaking during a virtual charity event for the Alzheimer’s Society, Ferguson revealed that he was actually very interested in making a move for Henderson before his scouting and medical teams swayed him.

“There was criticism from Brendan Rodgers about my assessment of Jordan. The actual story was we were ready to make a bid for him at Sunderland,” admitted Ferguson. “I spoke to Steve Bruce (Sunderland’s manager). Our scouting/medical department said they weren’t happy with his running style.”

“They said he could be the type to get injuries. I had to make sure players would always be available. But we loved Jordan as a player.”

Ferguson was eventually proven correct about Henderson’s ability, and, to his credit, he readily admits that the stories he hears about Liverpool’s captain point to United missing out when they were scared off by Henderson’s running.

“He has proved that now. All the stories I hear about him tell me that I missed out on a really good person.”

It’s weird to think that Henderson could have been wearing United red instead of Liverpool red, but I think we can all be thankful that the Manchester United scouting and medical staff were so worried about the way Henderson runs.