Football News

Klopp praises Liverpool captain Henderson for coping with “hardest job in football”

By Ben Green

Published: 20:14, 7 April 2019

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on Jordan Henderson for seamlessly taking on the role of captain following the departure of club legend Steven Gerrard.

The former England international called time on his illustrious 17-year Liverpool career in 2015, leaving the captain’s armband to Henderson, and Klopp believes his current skipper has handled the pressure and responsibility exceptionally well.

How has Henderson coped since taking the armband? Five key things to know…

  1. Gerrard had been Liverpool captain for 12 years between 2003 and 2015.
  2. Following his departure from Merseyside, Henderson was entrusted with the role.
  3. The England midfielder became Liverpool’s ninth captain of the Premier League era.
  4. Former manager Brendan Rodgers initially gave Henderson the armband but Klopp has continued to keep faith in his leadership qualities.
  5. Since Henderson took up the captain’s armband Liverpool have reached a Europa League, Champions League and League Cup final.

Henderson has largely fallen down the midfield pecking order this season following the summer acquisition of Fabinho, but the 28-year-old made his mark during the 3-1 win over Southampton on Friday.

With the Reds already 2-1 up, Henderson struck late on to ensure maximum reward on the south coast, simultaneously ending his one-and-a-half year wait for a goal.

In the immediate aftermath of the match, Klopp struggled to contain his delight and was quick to laud the exploits of his skipper, explaining how he has maturely handled the pressure of “the most difficult job in the last 500 years of football.”

“I’m very positive,” said Klopp. “The most difficult job in the last 500 years of football was to replace Steven Gerrard. In the mind of the people it was like ‘if it’s not Stevie, then it’s not good enough’.

“And he has dealt with that outstandingly well so he can be really proud. Now we have to think of the future and he is a very important part of our team.”

Victory for Liverpool put them back at the top of the Premier League table, above Man City – who have a game in hand – by two points.

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Henderson’s best role

With a number of central midfield options at Klopp’s disposal, the German has been open to tinkering with his tactics this season, and that has meant, at times, a system change for Henderson.

The England international was best known for a box-to-box role during his Sunderland and early Liverpool days, but Klopp has revealed how he and his coaching staff have adapted Henderson’s game, and will continue to do so for the good of the team.

He added: “When I came in and thought first about the team, Hendo was a box-to-box player. We made him a No.6 and that’s good.

“I think it’s helped him a lot to play in different positions. I told him already that that doesn’t mean he will never play as a six again.

“He thinks it makes sense, and that’s absolutely true. We play different systems. Milly [James Milner] and Hendo were both really pumped up. It helped us a lot.”