Henderson thriving after Klopp lifts shackles

London: Jordan Henderson has emerged as the unexpected driving force in Liverpool’s midfield after persuading Jurgen Klopp to grant him the freedom to roam.
Henderson has spent most of his career as an unsung support act for more glamorous team-mates with Liverpool and England.
But the 28-year-old has won Klopp’s trust so completely that he goes into Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg at Porto firmly established as one of the key components of Liverpool’s push for a European Cup and Premier League double.
Ever since joining Liverpool from his hometown club Sunderland in 2011, Henderson had struggled to silence the critics who have questioned his ability to influence matches against the very best opposition.
Those doubters seized on criticism from former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, who once wrote in his autobiography that he opted not to sign Henderson because of the way he ran.
“We looked at Jordan Henderson a lot, and Steve Bruce was unfailingly enthusiastic about him. But we noticed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight back,” Ferguson said.
“The modern footballer runs from his hips, and we thought this gait might cause him problems later in his career.”
But the level-headed Henderson refused to be beaten down by Ferguson and others who wrote him off.
Impressing Klopp with his tactical discipline and relentless work ethic, Henderson has improved significantly since the German took charge at Anfield in 2015, earning the captain’s armband.
But even with his place in Klopp’s plans secure as a reliable defensive midfielder, Henderson remained restless for a bigger role in the team’s attacking scheme.
Offered the chance to play in an advanced midfield berth during England’s recent Euro 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic and Montenegro, Henderson showcased his versatility with two terrific performances.
Emboldened by those displays, Henderson made a beeline for Klopp’s office on his return to Liverpool’s Melwood training ground and made his case to be used in the same role with the Reds.
On fire
It wasn’t the first time this season Henderson had been willing to challenge Klopp after the pair briefly clashed on the Old Trafford touchline when the midfielder was substituted against Manchester United.
Intriguingly, Klopp decided to bow to Henderson’s request on this occasion and the results have been a revelation. — AFP