Football is never a personal game and the success of the game, like life, comes from a collective work and the individuals who put their best to make that work most effective should be regarded as the best
Liverpool won the top league of England after an incredible 30-year gap and their 30-year old captain Jordan Henderson won the Player of the Year (POTY) award, but many questioned the selection.
Football is never a personal game and the success of the game, like life, comes from a collective work and the individuals who put their best to make that work most effective should be regarded as the best.
However, as the outcome of a football match is decided by goals, goal scorers or the players who create the chances are always in the limelight and with the presence of ubiquitous media, who always try to create images of individual heroes in the public imagination, goal scorers and providers are always termed as the best.
That is why, when a workman player like Henderson, who plays in the non charismatic position of a holding or withdrawn midfielder, is given the award like POTY that shatters the public perception. People try to defy the decision with numbers and stats, especially that of goals and assists, and evidently vouch for other names who are more frequent in the score sheet.
BREAKING: After guiding Liverpool to a first Premier League title in 30 years, Reds captain Jordan Henderson has been named as the FWA Footballer of the Year for the 2019/20 season.— Kick Off (@KickOffMagazine) July 24, 2020
Full story: https://t.co/NJ4uhVQ15a pic.twitter.com/NZzpS2N0U5
But, experts who chose Henderson to adorn him with the laurel of individual crown had a more profound consideration.
During the last season, Liverpool got 97 points but came second behind mighty Manchester City by one point and the attacking side lost points in crucial juncture of the season. One of the many reasons of that letdown was a lack of leader in the midfield, who would stabilise the defence and feed the attack with fervor of a leader. City on the other hand had such a leader, albeit a defender, in the likes of Vincent Kompany, whose leadership was instrumental for them to snatch the silverware. Henderson’s captaincy was a major influence to make Liverpool a steadier yet aggressive when required in the just concluded season.
Unlike previous seasons the all reds did not play hyper attacking football but almost raised the tempo at will as in many games they scored the winning goal in the last 10 minutes of a match.
But tactically, Henderson was even more important. He used to play in the more defensive role but this year his coach Jurgen Klopp allowed him to play in the more attacking role and his brilliant vision, link up play, ability to create space for the advanced players and also liaison with the defence as well as capacity of pressing and counter pressing proved instrumental for realizing the coach's gameplan. Liverpool played with 4-3-3 in most of time and their wingbacks are mostly interested to overlap to make it a virtual five-man attack.
For that reason, Henderson becomes pivotal as the source of initial attack in the midfield and at the same time the first man in the high line defence to resist the opposition during a counter attack or break. This is an extremely difficult job and Henderson possesses the rare quality of fulfilling the responsibility and he did it with immaculate perfection throughout the year.
Before the Covid-19 lockdown, Liverpool lost just five points out of 93 and despite the presence of prolific trio in the attack, two of the most threatening full backs, a world beater half back and a goalie, they were lucky to get the service of a fit Henderson around the season.
And that is why despite brilliant shows from many of his illustrious comrades as well as the excellence of City superstar Kevin de Bruyne, who has been outstanding to say the least in this season, Henderson was the deserved winner of the POTY.