Jurgen Klopp believes Jordan Henderson took on “the most difficult job in the last 500 years of football” when he replaced Steven Gerrard as Liverpool captain.
England midfielder Henderson produced a fired-up cameo from the bench on Friday, scoring to complete a 3-1 victory over Southampton that moved Klopp’s team back ahead of Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.
Fabinho’s arrival at Anfield this season means Henderson is no longer an automatic choice in the holding-midfield position and he was deployed in a roving box-to-box role at St Mary’s Stadium to fine effect.
Klopp maintains the 28-year-old’s value to the Reds’ cause is significant and feels the task he has taken on – wearing an armband proudly sported for years by club great Gerrard – should not be underplayed.
“That goal meant so much to him and to us. He’s just a fantastic boy. He deserves all the praise but he doesn’t get too much of it,” Klopp said, as quoted by the Telegraph.
“Hendo, from my point of view, is a brilliant player. He’s our skipper, he’s a fantastic character.
“If I had to write a book about Hendo, it would be 500 pages. So I’m very positive.
“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.”
Klopp added that he is prepared to turn to Henderson in a more attacking position once more as Liverpool tackle the business end of their bids for glory in the Premier League and Champions League.
“When I came in and thought first about the team, Hendo was a box-to-box player. We made him a number six and that’s good,” he explained.
“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.”
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