Football

Why Henderson Winning Player Of The Year Would Be Fitting End To The Season

Why Henderson Winning Player Of The Year Would Be Fitting End To The Season

By Sunday evening, all remaining questions surrounding the Premier League season will have been answered. The title may have long been sewn up, but there is still plenty to play for when it comes to European place and relegation.

Once those issues have been settled, and with some moving to focus on European football or an FA Cup final, there will be one other debate that continues.

The PFA Footballer of the Year award will awarded in strange circumstances this season. The games that made up the first three-quarters of the campaign now seems like a distant memory, which can make this award somewhat difficult to judge.

In many people's minds, the final shortlist can be narrowed down to three contenders: Kevin De Bruyne, Sadio Mané, and Jordan Henderson.

That seems a bit harsh on a couple of Liverpool players, most notably Virgil van Dijk who has performed to a level similar to the one which saw him run away with the award last season.

Mané's early season form made him the favourite, but since the turn of the year it has only really been about De Bruyne and Henderson.

The case for the Belgian has been pretty obvious. On his day, he is probably the best player in the Premier League. During the 2019/20 season, it seems that he is on his day more often than not.

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His mark of 19 assists has only been bettered once in Premier League history, and he still has a chance to surpass Thierry Henry's mark of 20 in the 2002/03 campaign. His playmaking is certainly on another level and it could be argued that he is the best crosser of the ball we have seen since David Beckham.

None of that is even to mention the 11 goals he has netted himself.

Had he put together a similar campaign last season, when Manchester City competed with Liverpool and ultimately won the Premier League, he would run away with the award.

Unfortunately for him, his club have been essentially out of the title race since Christmas. Players have won the award under such circumstances before, most notably when Mo Salah did so a couple of years ago. However, his historic tally of 32 goals made him difficult to ignore.

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Jordan Henderson's case is a very different one.

He does not possess any of the eye-catching individual stats that the Belgian can boast, but his impact is obvious on a team level.

Henderson may not be the most talented player in the Liverpool squad, but he is without doubt the leader both in the dressing room and on the pitch. He spurs his teammates on, covers their mistakes on the pitch, and always put the team above himself.

As part of a Jurgen Klopp side that is perfectly assembled to work as a unit, the captain epitomises those values.

Last night, only moments after becoming the first Liverpool captain to life the league title in over 30 years, he only wanted to speak about the team. He was nearly embarrassed when asked about the personal plaudits he had received.

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It's obviously nice to hear good things, but at the same time it's not about me, it's about the team.

I wouldn't be where I am today without the players that I've played with since I came through at Liverpool. The managers I've had, the coaches I've worked with, and this team the last few years have been immense and helped me massively.

I've got to give credit to them. I'm just lucky enough to be part of this football club, to work with some amazing people that have helped me.

I've always tried to give everything I've got, I've always tried to improve each season. That won't stop until I finish.

He has also had his own individual moments of immense quality.

Then you have everything he has done off the pitch, being the driving force in charitable fund set up by Premier League captains to help the NHS.

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These individual awards are far from an exact science. Narrative plays a major part in deciding the winner, often trumping who has had the best season on a statistical basis.

There are countless examples of this.

Virgil van Dijk is not really being considered this year despite having a very similar season to the one he had last year. Ryan Giggs won the award in 2009 despite only making 12 starts up to that point in the season.

We also saw it in the Ballon d'Or in 2018. Luka Modric did win the Champions League with Real Madrid, but he scored two goals in all competitions at club level in the 2017/18 season, and his performances were widely criticised. He went on to have an incredible World Cup and the narrative was flipped, ultimately carrying him to the award.

Henderson has been far more impactful this season in comparison to a couple of the examples above.

His story is a compelling one. He has gone from a failure at Liverpool, one who was almost forced out of the club, to a Premier League and Champions League winning captain.

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When Jurgen Klopp was appointed as Liverpool manager he talked about turning doubters into believers. That is the Jordan Henderson story.

Liverpool are a club that have absolutely obliterated the competition this season, and they are one that is built around the mantra that the good of the team comes above all else. It may sound strange that the player who epitomises that attitude should be rewarded on a personal level, but it would be fitting.

You certainly wouldn't hear any complaints from inside Anfield should Henderson receive this award.

SEE ALSO: Lampard's Liverpool 'Arrogance' Dig Is A Bit Rich Given His Own History

Gary Connaughton

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