"The beauty of the soul shines out," wrote Aristotle, "when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper." The Greek philosopher's hypothesis is particularly apt in the case of the sportsman who endures setbacks with dignity and determination, and at Liverpool Football Club, Jordan Henderson, like Lucas Leiva before him, is doing just that.
Unfairly dismissed by the more impatient amongst Liverpool's vast fan-base, as one of a bundle of failed Kenny Dalglish signings, Henderson has shown himself to be in a different category to Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Andy Carroll. That Brendan Rodgers is one of the few who apparently cannot see that, is the main stumbling block for the young England Under 21 captain, as he continuess to embody the aforementioned Aristotelian maxim.
On Easter Sunday, Liverpool hope to atone for one of the most damaging results of the season thus far when they slumped to a 1 - 3 defeat to Aston Villa at Anfield. That reversal has, however, been singled-out by Rodgers as "turning point," insisting that "from then on our goals, our mentality improved significantly."
A significant amount of supporters will hope that Rodgers has a turning point of his own between now and season's end when it comes to the selection of Henderson. When called upon, the Sunderland native has excelled, providing energy, mobility and no small amount of craft. He again refused to whinge about his personal situation and instead, was perfectly on-message when speaking to the club's website.
"The Villa game was a bit of a shock to everyone, to be honest. During the game they broke at us a couple of times and got a few goals. but I still think we were capable of winning the game - we had a lot of chances and we had good possession of the ball."
Ah yes, possession and chances - two unreliable friends of Liverpool football Club in recent seasons, for their presence has been no guarantee of the three points needed to garnish them. To be fair to Rodgers and his charges, however, since the turn of the year, the ruthlessness of the team in front of goal has increased and the form has been more-or-less Champions League standard.
Jordan Henderson was a standout in many of those fixtures, but he soon found himself inexplicably ousted in favour of Joe Allen. Allen's own scenario has been discussed at length by Ed and needs no further rehashing, save to say that there is a logic defying aspect to the Welshman's selection ahead of Henderson that is disconcerting and irritating.
On form, the trio of Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson are automatic selections, or at least they are in the limited brainpan of this particular scribbler. The balance these three offer is the best the club have at their disposal currently and the mixture of solidity, distribution, tempo and screening they bring was described rather eloquently to me this morning, by one Neboneid Hamoo, as working "like a sonnet."
Aston Villa, three points clear of Wigan, are right in the middle of a relegation scrap and their most recent result, the late 3-2 win over QPR, highlights perfectly the danger inherent in this fixture for Liverpool. Henderson feels the players were stung by the defeat in December and are highly motivated to redress the balance against Paul Lambert's men.
"Games like that hurt. They hurt a lot. After a a match like that, or after any time you get beat, it affects you for a day or two but then you need to move on to the next game as quickly as possible. I'll be looking forward to the game on Sunday and I'll be ready."
Nobody can doubt the character of Jordan Henderson on the evidence of this season. His attitude is exemplary and his performances have been first-rate. If only somebody could convince our manager that there is more to this player than a useful makeweight in some future transfer dealings, we might actually see Henderson emerge as real stalwart of this era in the club's development. Perhaps the trouser-free-touchline-show that is Colin Pascoe may intervene and help Rodgers see the wood from the trees. Somebody needs to.