Changing of the managerial guard inevitably affects some players more so than others. In the case of Liverpool, things are no different.
Some have seen their respective stocks rise since Brendan Rodgers’ arrival. For example, both Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey have seen their playing time significantly increase under the Northern Irishman.
Conversely, others that were used to seeing the pitch are now seen skulking along the sidelines. Charlie Adam is among this group. There has also been a considerable amount of press devoted to Andy Carroll’s fall from favor under the new regime.
Yet, comparatively little heed has gone to Jordan Henderson. The former Sunderland man has gone from rising star to total afterthought. What’s even more surprising is that the change has taken place with little word from anyone.
Just one month ago, the young English international seemed the odds-on favorite to win the coveted third midfield slot, beside Lucas Leiva and Steven Gerrard. If anything, the preseason only further confirmed that notion. Henderson featured heavily throughout the summer.
However, things have changed considerably since then. Two matches into the Premier League campaign and Henderson has yet to lace up his cleats.
Anfield’s new boss has been quoted as saying that he needs five good midfielders to sustain a full season, given the strain his 4-3-3 puts on that area of the pitch.
We already knew that Lucas and Gerrard would be staples within the system. Next, the club signed Joe Allen and Nuri Sahin to give the franchise additional creativity. And finally, there is the rise of Jonjo Shelvey and his increase in playing time.
So where does that leave Henderson? Apparently, he is the sixth fiddle in a five-man band.
An optimist, in that case, would claim that he is just taking a bit longer to adjust to the new system. But is it perhaps deeper than that? Is Henderson, like Carroll, simply not a fit for the new system?
Let’s consider the three midfield positions. Gerrard is the de facto attacking player with Shelvey serving as his understudy. Allen and, now foreseeably, Sahin will vie for the holding spot. Lucas is the best defensive option; and behind him both Allen and Jay Spearing crop up as superior alternatives to Henderson.
Thus, it would appear Kenny Dalglish’s major investment from a year ago is now a man without a home.
Perhaps this is wrong thinking. Maybe Henderson will prove the doubters wrong and adapt.
On the other hand, perhaps I am right. Maybe Henderson is best suited for a traditional 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 as commonly seen elsewhere throughout the Premier League.
In that case, the once promising signing could be the next casualty of regime change. That much does not surprise me; it is a part of footballing life.
However, what is strange is the total lack of press devoted to the subject. For whatever reason, this story seems set to end with a whimper and not a bang.