IN the summer of 2011, when Jordan Henderson first signed for Liverpool Football Club I admit to being remarkably disturbed by how much we paid for him.
I knew absolutely zero about the guy. That isn’t because of my ignorance of anything outside of the club I’ve loved since I was born, but more so the fact that his rise had been pretty unremarkable.
Here was a lad, playing in the first-team at his home-town club – Sunderland – who was impressing many with the fact that he was a regular in the side at a young age, but wasn’t exactly pulling up trees.
After what was a very, very – very – mediocre first season, Jordan has been slightly more impressive this year. A run of some improved performances was capped by maybe his best in a Red shirt against Norwich just over a week ago, which had many waxing about his brilliant strike to get us up and running.
In the past week I’ve heard many paying him tribute with comparisons to Lucas in the sense that he has overcome his nay-sayers in the same way.
Unfortunately, I’m here to downplay things a little for you. Sure, he’s been pretty decent lately, but he is not even close to the same ball-park as Lucas just yet.
Following his signing some years ago, Lucas was practically hounded out of the club, such was the extent of the outright hatred the midfielder received from our fans. I was often appalled at his treatment, such was the unwarranted vitriol aimed at the young Brazilian in his early days.
However, Lucas gradually won people over. It was a combination of hard-work, adapting to his cultural surroundings and getting used to Premier League football. The icing on the cake for many was an early season performance last year when Lucas utterly dominated Man City’s expensive midfield, more or less single-handedly. It’s a performance I will remember fondly for years – he was like a force that literally could not be reckoned with on that day.
And it is for his reason that I say this: Jordan Henderson is not quite there yet. Sure, his second season has started somewhat more impressively, but a couple of goals and looking a little bit more like you’re ‘up for it’ doesn’t mean you’ve made it at this club.
I’ve been much more impressed with the midfielder’s attitude this season; he appears to understand much more what is expected of a Liverpool footballer but he’s still a long way off being made of the right stuff.
He clearly has the ability and his technique is quite impressive (for an English player!) but I want at least a full season of impressive performances before I’ll equate him with players like Lucas, Gerrard and Suarez.
So, until the season is over, he’s still on a trial period for me, particularly given the hefty sum we splashed out on him, but if he continues to improve and carries on chipping in the odd assist and goal then I will happily accept him as a player I misjudged. Until that day arrives, though, the jury (or mine, at least) is still very much out on ‘Hendo’.