Liverpool ended the summer transfer window having made only one signing and with a number of fringe players still on the books. So why was that?
In the current setup, Liverpool rarely actively participate in the transfer deadline day pageantry.
Even then, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s arrival was far from a surprise; gone are the days of frantic final flurries such as that which brought Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez through the Shankly Gates on the same day.
But such is the nature of the market that Michael Edwards, Julian Ward, Mike Gordon and, more frequently, director of loan management David Woodfine remain busy throughout deadline day.A busy deadline day, but no signings?
Liverpool went into Tuesday with plenty to do in terms of outgoings, while supporters held onto faint hopes of a new addition in midfield, attack or both.
There were expectations of sales for Divock Origi, Nat Phillips, Loris Karius, Sheyi Ojo and perhaps Neco Williams, while the futures of Rhys Williams, Jake Cain, Tony Gallacher, Elijah Dixon-Bonner, Luis Longstaff and Morgan Boyes were to be resolved.
Twenty-three hours passed on a day kicked off by a new four-year contract for Jordan Henderson, and Origi, Phillips, Karius, Williams, Gallacher, Dixon-Bonner and Boyes remained on Merseyside.
Loans were finalised for Ojo, Williams, Cain and Longstaff, but there were no handshakes over permanent deals, either going in or out.
The transfer window ended, then, with Ibrahima Konate the only first-team signing and a third of the peripheral figures intending to be sold still on the books.
Top-flight leagues in Russia, Turkey and Mexico are still able to conduct business for the time being, which could present another avenue for players like Origi and Karius, but for all intents and purposes, the cut-off point has been and gone.
Jurgen Klopp will now push on with the players already at his disposal – and, outwardly at least, he will be happy to do so – while potentially not even registering a full allocation of senior players.
But until January at the earliest, many will ponder what could have been had one of the best squads in Europe been reinforced further.
There is certainly a question to be asked over whether Liverpool and those overseeing transfers made a rod for their own backs when it came to moving players on.Lofty price tags
Given the round-the-clock coverage of the market, with a growing section of supporters seemingly more interested in signings and sales than performances on the pitch, the Reds’ efforts to shift their deadwood was widely publicised.
With that typically came reports of Liverpool‘s valuations for those players, with price tags set to give interested parties a ball-park figure when negotiations began.
It is often the case that these are part of the process of maximising value during talks – for example, if Awoniyi is presented as available for £8 million, certain clubs would then be alerted to his availability.
However, from an outside perspective, the fact that these valuations were not met for any of the four senior players sold and deals failed to materialise for others suggests an issue.
From those sold – namely Shaqiri, Wilson, Grujic and Awoniyi – it was Grujic who saw the biggest drop between the hopeful fee and that which Porto ultimately paid for him – from £20 million to £10.5 million.
And though it could be considered a coup that Wilson was sold for £12 million when he had just one year remaining on his contract, but there were hopes Fulham would pay £3 million more.
Meanwhile, it was seen as something of a success that the club were able to convince Lyon to more than double their initial bid for Shaqiri, but the £9.5 million secured was still lower than the minimum value of £13 million that fans were told he could bring in.
That may be the biggest problem: the proliferation of transfer news and the manner in which fans consume it creates unrealistic hopes – particularly when a ‘sell to buy’ approach is emphasised.
It is easy to gloss over the structure of certain deals, with sell-on clauses such as those agreed for Wilson, Grujic, Awoniyi, Kamil Grabara and Liam Millar possibly accounting for part of the price tag missed.
But if funds really were required from sales – and more realistically, players needing to be moved on before more bodies brought in – perhaps Liverpool set their prices too high?
Is it any wonder no buyers could be found at the fees required for Origi, Phillips, Williams or Ojo considering their performance levels over the past two years?
Origi is the prime example of this: a player whose stock could not have been higher at the end of the 2018/19 season, but having reverted to a level below that needed to challenge the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, can now neither be relied upon or cashed in on.A vicious cycle
The decision to hand Origi a new five-year contract on the back of the Champions League triumph in 2019 remains one of the biggest, most sentimental failings of Edwards’ tenure as sporting director.
That Origi turned down the move to Molineux was not the fault of those within the club’s hierarchy – and goals against Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham vindicated the No. 27’s decision – but the situation playing out now certainly is.
And while he enjoys a similar cult status among fans, it is hard not to draw parallels with the four-year deal handed to Phillips when none of Newcastle, Burnley, Brighton or Southampton stumped up £15 million before deadline day.
Phillips may be content with his role as fifth-choice centre-back, particularly given Joel Matip and Joe Gomez‘s injury history, but there is unlikely to be better time to capitalise on his profile than the window just gone.
So, the problem perpetuates: Liverpool retain a fragile underbelly to their otherwise world-class squad, as pricing out potential suitors appears to have sabotaged the ‘sell to buy’ outlook.
Whether that proves fatal remains to be seen, and thankfully Klopp is still confident of success on a number of fronts with the players he has.
But supporters are well within their rights to question the stance taken throughout the summer.
Liverpool players are off on international duty this week – so a few youngsters are doubtless getting the chance to impress Jurgen Klopp. Meanwhile, the end of the transfer window doesn’t mean the end of the rumours.Origi set for Super Lig?
The Reds won’t be able to replace anybody else who goes down injured or leaves on late deals, but Divock Origi could still get an Anfield exit.
No mention of a fee involved, but they have a plane on standby, are in the final round of negotiations and…talking to Peter Moore, apparently.
Something is off, but it might not be Origi!Injuries and internationals
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reminder to all media organisations that Cristiano Ronaldo broke the all-time MEN'S* international goal-scoring record (111).
the actual all-time record in football is held by Canada's Christine Sinclair (187).
language ? matters ?
— Samantha Lewis (@battledinosaur) September 1, 2021
Qualifiers! Hungary against England, Sweden against Spain, plus Chile against Brazil in the early hours.
Liverpool youngster Owen Beck appreciates the help his great-uncle Ian Rush has given him on his Anfield journey.
Beck, 19, who played for Liverpool during pre-season, now hopes to emulate Rush by establishing himself for club and country.
“As soon as I started playing football he’s given me advice and I speak to him a lot,” left-back Beck said of his relationship with Rush while on Wales Under-21 duty this week.
“He’s done it himself and he knows what to say. It’s definitely helped me on my journey.
“He was a striker and I’m a full-back, so position-wise it’s different, but the advice he gives more is more mentally.
“His main advice is working hard and never giving up. You need to be concentrated every day training alongside the best players.”
Beck started out at Stoke before his boyhood club snapped him up at the age of 13 and he signed his first professional contract in the summer of 2020.
After spending last season in the Reds’ under-23 squad, the Flint product’s progress was rewarded with a five-year contract in July and a place in Liverpool’s pre-season plans.
Beck had game-time in Austrian and French training camp friendlies and then featured against Spanish pair Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna at Anfield.
“It was a proud moment, to get as many minutes as I did I was very happy with,” Beck said.
“The games at Anfield were one of the first with the fans back in and it was a great experience in front of them.
“One of them was even on my birthday, but I don’t think the manager (Jurgen Klopp) knew that until after the game.
“They are world-class full-backs and just to take bits out of their game into mine is going to make me a better player.
“You’ve got big expectations to live up to nowadays and the modern-day full-back has to get forward as well as defend.”
Beck’s next test is for Wales Under-21s in Bulgaria on Tuesday.
Wales were held at home by Moldova in their opening 2023 UEFA European U21 Championship qualifier in June.
“We need to be on it all week,” Beck said. “We have to get everything right to get the three points.”
Sadio Mane's finish for Liverpool against Burnley has been nominated for August's Premier League Goal of the Month award.
The No.10 emphatically completed a brilliant team move from the Reds to make it 2-0 in the victory over The Clarets at Anfield.
The strike is one of eight on the Premier League's shortlist for the monthly prize, with supporters able to vote for Mane's effort here.
Liverpool FC welcomed Jeff Stelling as he marches across the country for a fourth time in aid of Prostate Cancer UK and honour of Ray Clemence.
The long-serving TV presenter is tackling four walking marathons in four regions, with his third march taking place on Merseyside on Wednesday.
His route started at Tranmere Rovers and ended with a short stroll across Stanley Park from Goodison Park to Anfield. He also visited Marine AFC and the iconic Aintree Racecourse earlier in the day.
Anfield was a fitting finale on a day that Stelling paid tribute to LFC legend Clemence, who sadly died last year after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Jeff was joined on the walk by Stephen Clemence, Ray’s son, as a wreath was then placed at L4 in memory of the goalkeeping great.
Stelling’s aim is to fund lifesaving research to improve testing, treatments and care for those impacted by the most common cancer in men.
“One in eight men in the UK will get prostate cancer in their lifetime,” he said. “I deal in stats but that one still shocks me.
“Last year, we lost the great Ray Clemence to prostate cancer. A terrific goalkeeper and a terrific human being.
“I also lost my mate, Lloyd Pinder, to the disease a few months earlier. I met him on the second day of my very first march for Prostate Cancer UK up in Yorkshire. This highlights once more what an indiscriminate disease this is, and it’s for men like Lloyd and Ray, their families and everyone affected by prostate cancer that we march again.”
You can support Jeff by donating here.
Liverpool FC Women continued their build-up to Saturday's FA Women's Championship trip to Watford with a training session at The Campus.
Matt Beard's side will face the Hornets at Vicarage Road, with kick-off set for 2pm BST.
The Reds will be hoping to get their first three points of the season following their opening day loss to London City Lionesses.
Take a look through our gallery below.
Photos by Andrew Powell - @andyphotolfc
Sadio Mane believes the synergy between team and supporters can drive Liverpool to more success this season.
The Reds have made an encouraging start to 2021-22, collecting seven points from their first three Premier League games while scoring six times and conceding just once.
Two of those matches – a 2-0 win over Burnley and last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea – were played in front of a capacity crowd at Anfield, and Mane considers the return of fans to be a huge boost to the club’s ambitions.
“You know, this has always been my boyhood dream: to play against the best players in the world, and everyone knows the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world, so I love every second of playing and it is that which brings me happiness,” the No.10 told Liverpool’s official matchday programme.
“As a footballer you always want to be playing, and playing against the best opponents, and also to go out there and win trophies. So it’s fantastic for me to be playing here, evolving within this big, legendary club with our amazing fans.
“Having our fans back in the stadium is an extra motivation because, like I have always said, the Liverpool fans are the best fans in the world. It was fantastic to play in front of a full Anfield again. Having them back can be massive for us and they can play a huge part in our success.”
Another positive in the early weeks of the campaign has been the classy displays of the fit-again Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk, who have performed with typical assuredness having recovered from injuries that forced them to miss large portions of 2020-21.
Joe Gomez is also available once again following a long-term knee injury, while Jürgen Klopp bolstered his central-defensive ranks further with the summer signing of Ibrahima Konate.
“Having one of the best defenders in the world back on your team, you don’t need to describe it – it’s amazing,” Mane said, of Van Dijk.
“Last year was obviously a tough time for him but now he’s always smiling! And, of course, we are all happy for him.
“He is a very professional athlete who looks after his body all the time and I wasn’t surprised to see him straight back into his old form. We have seen him play a few games now and, for me, we have seen him at that level already.
“Obviously it was a big blow for us missing not only Virgil but also Joel [Matip] and Joe Gomez last year. If you have these kind of players in your team and you’re missing them, then for sure you will feel it. I think any club in this world would feel the same.
“Now we are really happy to have them back and it’s been a good start to the season with these names on the backs of the shirts behind me! But we should also remember that the young lads like Nat [Phillips] and Rhys [Williams] who came in to deputise for these players last season did a great job too.”
And on Konate, the forward continued: “He is a very nice lad and from the first day he was with us I was really surprised because it was like he has been here for years. With myself that was not the case because I am a bit shy, but he just came in and settled straightaway which is really important.
“You could see in pre-season that he was doing well from the start and we are really, really happy to have him. I feel that this year he will have a great season for Liverpool.”
Consider the story of Frank Worthington, whose transfer from Bolton Wanderers to Birmingham City in 1977 was on the brink of collapse when he turned up at Burnden Park for a training session to the sound of Mick Jagger singing You Can’t Always Get What You Want coming from a record player. Bolton’s squad had set the whole thing up and they roared with laughter. Worthington laughed with them. Then they all went back to work. Worthington was selected on the Saturday for Bolton and he scored.
It might be tempting to see Worthington as an exception in a different era. He was a maverick footballer and he led a maverick life, making headlines on the fronts of newspapers as well as on the back pages. Yet the process of the 14 professional deals he was involved in were largely conducted with the sort of privacy that few — if any — high-profile players can enjoy today.
As one top-level agent with a stable of elite clients says, “That’s what makes it so different when an agreement blows up in your face — everybody usually knows about it. You have an ego and you have embarrassment. Players have to explain themselves to their families, who have been thinking of a future elsewhere. They go back to a club everybody knows they don’t want to be at with their tail between their legs. They have to find a way to manage their relationship with the fans.”
So, what happens then? Worthington would eventually earn that move to Birmingham but he was, in part, able to carry on at Bolton as he had before because nobody outside of the club knew what had happened.
Sadio Mane scored for Senegal as six Liverpool players were in international action on Wednesday.
The Reds’ No.10 put his country ahead from close range in their 2-0 win over Togo while, elsewhere in the African section of World Cup qualifying, Naby Keita’s Guinea drew 1-1 with Guinea Bissau.
In the European groups, meanwhile, Diogo Jota’s Portugal staged a late fightback to overcome the Republic of Ireland 2-1. Caoimhin Kelleher was an unused substitute for the visitors at Estadio Algarve.
Virgil van Dijk returned as captain of the Netherlands as they drew 1-1 with Norway in Oslo and Andy Robertson skippered Scotland in their 2-0 away defeat to Denmark.
Finally, Kostas Tsimikas played the first half as Greece were beaten 2-1 by Switzerland in a friendly.
Liverpool‘s busy deadline day…nope, can’t use the planned intro. Quiet all around, with even the expected summer departures remaining in some cases.Brazilian trio could miss Leeds
Premier League clubs gathered in force to prevent their players travelling to red-list countries for internationals, though a couple like Spurs have let them leave anyway.
Brazil have growled at Fifa and demanded rules be imposed which mean those who don’t travel cannot play for their clubs straight after the international break – which for the Reds means Firmino, Fabinho and Alisson could all miss the Leeds game.
Positives and negatives here: had they gone and had to quarantine, it would be more games. It might also help set some sort of agreement in motion for upcoming international breaks. And Firmino will likely miss out with injury anyway.
Negatives? Well, our No1 and No3 are two of the greatest defensive players on the planet…The deals we did…and didn’t
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Only 3 games, including half a game against 10 men Chelsea, but Liverpool have averaged the most shots (23.3) and shots on target (6.7) per game in the Premier League. Next are Man City and Wolves (!) For context, the respective numbers for Liverpool last season were 15.8 and 5.3 pic.twitter.com/FqsPrvcBUU
— NotoriousL19* (@lubomerkov) September 1, 2021
Tonight’s late games are World Cup quallies. Cristiano will score a record-breaking goal against Ireland and France will rebuild a broken reputation against Bosnia-Herzegovina. Malta vs Cyprus, though!
Just as the new season was starting to take shape, international action once again comes calling to see the domestic campaign come to a grinding halt.
Liverpool head into the break unbeaten with two victories and a draw, but there’s still plenty to improve upon and a point to prove after a lack of business in the transfer window.
While a handful of Reds saw their call ups blocked due to the restrictions in place for the pandemic, there is plenty of action elsewhere as World Cup qualifiers take centre stage.
There will also be some youth games to keep an eye on, but the overarching hope will be that every Red returns with a clean bill of health.
Here’s how you can watch Liverpool‘s internationals in action this month on TV in the UK.Fixtures & TV Info
– Hungary (A), World Cup qualifier – Thursday, Sept 2, 7.45pm – ITV / ITV Hub
– Andorra (H), World Cup qualifier – Sunday, Sept 5, 5pm – ITV / ITV Hub
– Poland (A), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 8, 7.45pm – ITV / ITV Hub
Andy Robertson (Scotland)
– Denmark (A), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Main Event
– Moldova (H), World Cup qualifier – Saturday, Sept 4, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Football
– Austria (A), World Cup qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Main Event
Virgil van Dijk (Netherlands)
– Norway (A), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Main Event
– Montenegro (H), World Cup qualifier – Saturday, Sept 4, 7.45pm- Sky Sports Red Button
– Turkey (H), World Cup qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Red Button
Diogo Jota (Portugal)
– Ireland (H), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Premier League
– Qatar (A), World Cup qualifier – Saturday, Sept 4, 5.45pm – Sky Sports Red Button
– Azerbaijan (A), World Cup qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7, 5pm – Sky Sports Main Event
Kostas Tsimikas (Greece)
– Switzerland (A), Friendly – Wednesday, Sept 1, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Red Button
– Kosovo (A), World Cup qualifier – Sunday, Sept 5, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Red Button
– Sweden (H), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 8, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Red Button
Sadio Mane (Senegal)
– Togo (H), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 5pm – FIFATV
– Congo (A), World Cup qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7, 5pm – Not on UK TV
Naby Keita (Guinea)
– Guinea-Bissau (A), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 5pm – FIFATV
– Morocco (H), World Cup qualifier – Monday, Sept 6, 5pm – Not on UK TV
Caoimhin Kelleher (Ireland)
– Portugal (A), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Premier League
– Azerbaijan (H), World Cup qualifier – Saturday, Sept 4, 5pm – Sky Sports Football
– Serbia (H), World Cup qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Football
Takumi Minamino (Japan)
– Oman (H), World Cup qualifier – Thursday, Sept 2, 11.14am – Not on UK TV
– China (A), World Cup qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7 4pm – Not on UK TV
Ben Woodburn (Wales)
– Finland (A), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 1, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Main Event
– Belarus (A), World Cup qualifier – Sunday, Sept 5, 2pm – Sky Sports Football
– Estonia (H), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 8, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Main Event
– Romania (A), Friendly – Friday, Sept 3, 7pm – Not on UK TV
– Kosovo U21 (H), U21 Euro qualifier – Tuesday, Sept 7, 7pm – Sky Sports Premier League
Kaide Gordon, Oakley Cannonier, Lee Jonas, Luke Chambers (England U18)
– Wales U18 (A), Friendly – Friday, Sept 3, 1pm – FAW Facebook / FAW YouTube
Conor Bradley (Northern Ireland)
– Lithuania (A), World Cup qualifier – Thursday, Sept 2, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Football
– Estonia (A), World Cup qualifier – Sunday, Sept 5, 5pm – Sky Sports Football
– Switzerland (H), World Cup qualifier – Wednesday, Sept 8, 7.45pm – Sky Sports Football
* All dates, times and TV info correct for the UK.
After a high-profile summer transfer window that saw Liverpool among the quietest with only one first-team signing, a number of former Reds have settled at new clubs.
Ibrahima Konate was the sole new addition at Anfield this summer, while six players were sold, seven were released and 12 were sent out on loan.
With the club’s recruitment team facing a reshuffle with the possible departure of sporting director Michael Edwards, it could be that there is a shift on the horizon for the Reds.
Beyond Liverpool, there were a number of big-money deals agreed across the Premier League, including Jack Grealish’s £100 million move to Man City, Romelu Lukaku’s £97.5 million return to Chelsea and Jadon Sancho’s £73 million switch to Man United.
Cristiano Ronaldo returned to United from Juventus, while Raphael Varane (£41m), Martin Odegaard (£34m), Leon Bailey (£30m) and Patson Daka (£23m) were among the other high-profile imports.
But what of those who previously represented Liverpool and have found themselves on the move this summer?
Mario Balotelli has joined the 10th club of his senior career with Adana Demirspor in Turkey, and has already courted controversy after punching one of his team-mates in reaction to his substitution.
Four senior centre-backs have earned moves, with Ragnar Klavan back in Estonia with Paide Linnameeskond, Martin Skrtel heading to Spartak Trnava, Mamadou Sakho returning to France with Montpellier and Steven Caulker swapping Alanyaspor for Fenerbahce.
Former academy players to have moved include Dan Atherton (Warrington Town), Corey Whelan (Carlisle), Joe Maguire (Tranmere), Sam Hart (Oldham), Samed Yesil (DJK St. Tonis) and Dani Pacheco (Aris Limassol).
Ozan Kabak agreed another loan move as he swapped Schalke for Norwich, with Tiago Ilori heading to Boavista for 2021/22, Herbie Kane joining Karl Robinson’s Oxford United temporarily and Adam Phillips joining Morecambe on a season-long deal.
Meanwhile, Andy Carroll, Jordon Ibe and Andre Wisdom are among those to have been released from their contracts but are yet to find new homes.
With the pandemic still very much ongoing, Premier League clubs made the sensible move to refuse international call ups for those destined for red list countries, but Brazil are not lying down easily.
Liverpool blocked Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino, who would have ultimately been withdrawn due to injury, from being called up in the September break due to a 10-day quarantine on their return.
With exemptions no longer in place for players making their way back from red list countries, their participation would have seen them miss the games against Leeds, AC Milan and Crystal Palace.
And while it is a disappointment for the players, it is a sensible move for all concerned but yet the Brazilian football federation is looking to punish the players further.
This would mean that they would be ineligible to play in matches for their club for five days after the end of the international break, which would see the Reds duo miss the clash against Leeds.
The Brazilian FA wrote to clubs to demand their players to be released last week after the Premier League‘s decision, while FIFA president Gianni Infantino made an appeal to Boris Johnson to provide an exemption.
None was forthcoming and now FIFA are expected to receive a complaint from Brazil that could result in a five-day ban, favoured over a 10-day quarantine but still far from ideal.
Aston Villa and Tottenham‘s decision to break rank by allowing their Argentinian contingent to travel to South America failed to help matters and now players find themselves at the mercy of the men in suits.
It’s hardly an amicable solution when a further two international breaks are to follow in as many months, with the players set to be put in a tug of war between club and country.
Jordan Henderson has put pen to paper on a new deal at Liverpool which will surely see him finish his playing career at Anfield. A satisfying end to a story that only a matter of weeks ago was threatening to turn into a saga.
In days gone by, you suspect, it would have. However, Tuesday’s announcement, almost lost in the deluge of deadline day hysteria, is something few of us would have predicted when he arrived at Anfield a decade ago.
The boy who would become captain joined Liverpool in June 2011 for a fee of £16 million. His signing raised many eyebrows, with Steve Bruce implying that Sunderland had fleeced Liverpool‘s director of football, Damien Comolli, and that he would have accepted half that figure to let Jordan leave.
Alex Ferguson later cast aspersions on the 21-year-old’s gait and suggested he couldn’t run properly. However, most damning of all, perhaps, was the early judgment of some Liverpool supporters.
It was a tough baptism for Henderson and his early years at the club would see him almost sold to Fulham in a deal that would bring Clint Dempsey to Anfield. Instead, he would refuse to go and demand the right to fight for his place. We can all be grateful that he did.
Amongst the quotes and soundbites from the player that I saw floating around social media after the announcement of Henderson’s new deal, one stood out above all the rest and it was from the captain himself:
“I’ve loved every minute of it, even when I look back at the tough times, I was still enjoying being a part of this football club.”
Perhaps this, more than anything else, sums up the man best because let’s be clear the tough times could have easily broken him. In the summer of 2011, Jordan was joining a club that had gone through something of a war. The disastrous ownership of Hicks and Gillett was now mercifully over but the brief Roy Hodgson era had shaken the supporters’ faith to the core. Kenny Dalglish, returning initially to steady the ship, had injected a modicum of belief, but the Anfield faithful had transformed into a sceptical bunch.
The team that had once boasted “the best midfield in the world,” with the likes of Steven Gerrard, Momo Sissoko, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, now contained Christian Poulsen, Charlie Adam, Lucas Leiva (who was battling his own critics) and Jonjo Shelvey. Sure, Gerrard was still there, but his perennial task of lifting the Liverpool team above its station had now reached herculean proportions.
Into this mix stepped a young lad from Sunderland. The Reds finished eighth that season, yet despite all of that he was enjoying being part of the club. Perhaps another quote from Hendo best explains how he got from there to here:
Every single season I’ve tried to improve and be better. I’ve given and will continue to give absolutely everything for this football club, the fans and my teammates. That will never change.
He would taste agony and ecstasy in his first season, winning the League Cup final and losing the FA Cup. It’s incredible to think that in the decade that Jordan’s been at Anfield, he’s featured in eight finals, winning four of them and also became a Premier League-winning captain. The latter achievement is of course something no Liverpool skipper has managed in the previous three decades, including one of the club’s greatest, and the man he would be tasked with succeeding, Steven Gerrard. It’s the stuff of Boy’s Own Stories.
Though we can now confidently say that he’s earned the right to lead the team, few would have predicted the impact Henderson would have as captain when he took the armband in 2015. His chances of becoming a Liverpool legend seemed improbable, to say the least, and many felt that replacing an iconic figure like Gerrard was impossible.
Of course, Henderson could never replace Liverpool‘s talismanic number eight, nobody could. He has instead carved out his own space and reinterpreted the role. Whereas Stevie quietly and ruthlessly led by example, often grabbing games by the shirt collar and dragging his teammates along for the ride, Jordan is a patrolling figure in the centre of midfield, barking orders, and organising those around him. Nobody rests on their laurels with him in the middle of the park.
Like Gerrard though, Henderson lives and breathes the game. He feels every high and plummets the depths of despair in defeat. He often takes the responsibility for setbacks upon his own shoulders and assigns credit for success to his teammates. He is the kick up the arse and the arm around the shoulder, a leader on and off the pitch.
Are there flaws to his game? Of course, there are. Few players, if any, are perfect, but Henderson’s strengths have more than made up for his weaknesses.
Some have said that giving a four-year deal to a 31-year-old with a recent track record of injuries is not the most sensible decision. I’d argue that in a game that has lost its mind when it comes to contracts and fees, Henderson’s deal is a breath of fresh air. It’s one made for footballing reasons and it has come at the insistence of the player’s manager, Jurgen Klopp. Who is better to judge the prudence of tying down Henderson for the rest of his playing career than him?
He has now amassed 394 appearances for the club in all competitions, and when he leaves Anfield he will have notched up 14 years in a red shirt. Hopefully, he will add to his League Cup, Champions League, World Club Cup, Premier League and UEFA Super Cup winner’s medals.
But even if he doesn’t, Jordan Henderson has already fulfilled a promise barely anyone thought he was capable of keeping, he is a worthy successor to Gerrard and in time to come, will be remembered as a bona fide club legend in his own right.
Here’s to you, skipper.