Remember when people criticised Jordan Henderson for only passing sideways or backwards? The Liverpool captain is making them look extremely silly this season.
For both club and country, Henderson was often used as a scapegoat for poor results for a perceived lack of class in the middle of the park.
Henderson was the honest grafter you couldn’t fault for effort, but nonetheless a limited player whose skillset would prevent his side – be it Liverpool or England – from succeeding at the highest level.
In many ways Jurgen Klopp’s tactical tweak in moving Henderson from a holding midfield role to more of a No.8 position seemed to be a concession of this. Fabinho came in to anchor the midfield and dictate the pace of a game, allowing Henderson to use his energy to harass the opposition all over the pitch.
Indeed, the change brought about an improvement from the former Sunderland man, who ended the season as a European Cup-winning captain. But Fabinho’s injury problems this season have seen him moved back into that role he was deemed unsuitable for, yet he’s simply carried on being brilliant.
While he may have earned comparisons to Steven Gerrard for conjuring results out of thin air, the 29-year-old produced one moment in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory at Norwich City that was much more akin to one of the Reds’ more measured midfield maestros: Xabi Alonso, who would go weak at the knees at the sight of this pass to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
It’s almost as if everything Henderson has done over the past 12 months has been aimed purely as a ‘f*ck you’ to his past critics.
Whenever the same tedious tropes are thrown in his direction, he is now well within his rights to dig out his winners’ medals, especially with the Premier League title set to follow in the coming months.
While we’re as guilty as anyone of making unhelpful comparisons to past Liverpool heroes, perhaps when Henderson finally does lift the Premier League trophy a year on from lifting the Champions League, he’ll finally be lauded for being himself.