LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 03: Liverpool FC present new signing Jordan Henderson at a press conference at Melwood Training Ground on August 03, 2011 in Liverpool , England. (Photo by Clint Hughes/Getty Images)
Of the signings made while Kenny Dalglish was Liverpool manager, Jordan Henderson has seen less vitriol headed his way than any of Charlie Adam, Andy Carroll, or Stewart Downing. He's still been shouted down for any number of reasons that he can't really control, whether it was his initial fee to join the club or continually being selected on the right side of Liverpool's midfield, where dreams went to die. Generally, though, Henderson seems the least divisive of the British signings in 2011 and at least inspired moments of hope. Which still didn't really make last season any easier.
"I think there were a lot of positives to be taken out of my first full season. Admittedly there were also a lot of ups and downs but I learnt a lot and I became a man in that time. I've just got to use all the experience that I gained in that year and hopefully this can be a better year for me."
It's mostly the typical stuff we'd expect from the offal, with a focus on what the future holds and moments to celebrate his selection in the England squad for this summers Euros. There's at least the acknowledgement, though, that last season wasn't ideal for any number of reasons, and that there's going to be forward progress needed in order for him to feature regularly and have a positive impact on this Liverpool side.
We know that Brendan Rodgers thinks well of Henderson, and that he also thinks about the player in terms of the age he actually is rather than the age everyone expects him to be because he cost a lot of money. I think that's partially what's led to limited action for Henderson thus far, with his only competitive minutes in the early season coming away to Gomel in the last round of the Europa League.
It's only going to get more challenging from here, as the addition of Joe Allen--who showed no signs of difficulty transitioning--and return of Lucas seemingly takes up two of the three midfield spots without blinking, with the more advanced role going to Steven Gerrard. Towards the end of last season we saw Henderson form a good working relationship with Jonjo Shelvey, but in a different system with two new faces, it's going to be hard for either to break through. The upper hand early seems to be with Shelvey, leaving Henderson as the fifth-choice midfielder or lower if the personnel remains the same after the end of the summer window.
News that Gerrard's been left at home might play in Henderson's favor ahead of tomorrow, and minutes will certainly increase if Liverpool get past Hearts and into the group stages. For now I'm more than content to be patient with him and his development, and still looking forward to what I think will be a very good Liverpool career.