Adam irks me for some reason that goes beyond his footballing ability, I must admit. While he has put in some good performances for us this season, for me there is something very ugly about him - he is selfish when he has the ball and extremely reckless without it (can't believe he hasn't more red cards this season). His set-pieces have been appalling, his passing is hit and miss.
The good news is that he was relatively cheap, but I have no idea what he brings to us. (Apart from a deceptively high number of assists). His one pass/free-kick every 180 minutes or so doesn't cut it for me.
I see potential with Henderson. Adam is in the Downing pile as far as I'm concerned. I'd be much happier with Shelvey getting gametime ahead of him.
If our aim is to get back into the top 4 and stay there, then that'll mean a of a lot of extra matches. Very few top teams have a set starting XI, so I would see Henderson's future as a squad player - I don't mean backup I mean squad player, like rotated. You can't go in with 2/3 starting mids and hope for mediocre/youth players to do the filling in.
So yes I would reckon Henderson has a future at the club, but I don't know if he will ever be a 'star' in the team. That said if he improves as much between now and 24/25 as Lucas has I may change my tune!
What do I think of Henderson so far? Well, I'll be honest I probably would've preferred if we had hung on to Meireles given the fees involved. At first I thought he was very very poor and didn't see much in him. But he's progressed, and like many have said he is far better in the CM role than out wide. He's got great work rate and stamina, a good one touch, and has shown the odd glimpse of impressive vision and good through balls. I expect this to improve with experience.
I feel there's a lot of areas he can improve on though:
Mentally: It's been mentioned here before, but Henderson has a tendency to go hiding when he's not having a good game. He needs to improve his 'moral courage' as Giles would term it - if things aren't going his way he'd rather not make more mistakes and thus appears anonymous or takes the easy option. This is something Lucas was guilty of at the same age and has improved immensely at the last few years.
Physically: This probably comes under mentally too in some ways. I feel he is still a bit weak in the tackle, and this is a mixture of a lack of bravery and a physical weakness also. He might fill out a bit and hopefully become a greater force off the ball. He covers a lot of ground but I don't think he's the best at winning 50/50s or making a strong clean tackle. Nowhere near the league of Lucas for example (although I know they're different players).
Technically: Has a decent cross, hopefully he can improve further on this. I'm not sure how good his shooting is - I don't know if he offers much of a shot from range, which is not essential but is a nice bonus to have from your centre-mid. He's only got one goal in 26. It's not a terrible stat, no one has been banging them in for us this year, but ultimately as a CM usually playing in a slightly more advanced role and with the odd appearance out wide, you would be expecting more goals in the future if he is to become a top midfielder.
Positionally/tactically: I expect Henderson to improve here as I suppose this is arguably where you improve most with top level experience. Going back to the goals point, I would like to see him getting into the box more and getting on the end of things ala Gerrard/Lampard in their prime. Not sure if it's tactical instructions that see him hang back, or that he's hiding slightly or just doesn't see the opportunities, but centre-mids these days score goals and often get into the box to do so. I don't see Henderson doing this all that often.
If he can improve on all these things he'll be a top player. I'm not trying to be harsh, it's true he's only 21 and we only have to look at Lucas at 21 to see how much you can improve in the next 3 years.
Ultimately my prediction is that he won't become World Class; he'll be a pretty important player for us and will be in the England set up but not a regular starter in which I imagine Wilshere will be the standout young English midfielder of his generation
I wouldn't be too harsh on Adam because he was bought for £8m and I think he is performing at about that level. He's a good back up option, but unfortunately due to injuries he has played more than I would have liked. I wouldn't compare him to Downing though, that's a bit harsh. Downing came for a big fee from Villa and still hasn't a goal or an assist in the league. Adam came for a relatively small fee, and it isn't too long ago since he was playing championship football.
When you put him in the centre with Lucas he can be solid enough, but when you pair him with Spearing or Henderson it's a disaster.
We started some games with Spearing and Adam in midfield, which isn't anywhere near good enough for a team chasing top 4.
Gerrard will be retired well before then.
Downing turns 28 in July, given his form so far along with his age, it is a bit optimistic to think a team will be bit partially around him for the next 5 or 6 years.
Glen Johnson also turns 28 this July so 5 or 6 years is probably optimitoc there as well.
Adam turns 27 late this year so again he is another who has age against him in terms of being one a team can be built around for the next 5 or 6 years, plus he is not a good enough player to be building around anyway.
Of the four young players mentioned, Kelly is the only one that has shown enough to date to suggest that he will still be at Liverpool over the next 5 or 6 years. Carroll and Henderson need to improve to a very large degree over the next 12 to 18 months (assuming they both last at the club that long) to have a chance of being key team members.
Sterling is just too young and way too raw to even guess about now. We have had way too many young attacking players over the past ten or so years that were "defo" going to make it for me to think that one will be a big part of the first team when he does not even have 1 game to his name yet.
As for the most successful teams in recent years all having a backbone of british players. I guess if we look at the last 10 years, maybe slightly longer, the four most successful English teams in terms of sliverware have been United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
United are the only one that really did well with british players.
Chelsea in the Roman years have generally had more foreign than british on the pitch, same goes for Arsenal and Ourselves.
Way too much emphasis is put on the need for having a lot of british players in the team, and I blame the british media for it's years and years of pumping out rubbish about british bulldogs, never say die, honest brit players and other such cliches. If british players were so good, there would be much more interest in them from the big clubs around Europe. The odd british player attracts attention abroad, but they are the exceptioon to the rule.
Nationality does not come into it for me, the right players are just that regardless of where their passport says they are from.
When you consider the team Rafa built:
I would say the main players in that team were Alonso, Mascherano, Gerrard, Carragher, Torres and Reina. Three of these left for others clubs. Out of the three that remain, two are English. We are still in a period of transition after these players leaving and still trying to replace them.
I am not saying that we should have an all British + Irish team but it is good to have a core of 7/8 players that you can rely on to stick with the club for a large part of their career.
I would say Mourinho's Chelsea team was heavily built around Terry and Lampard.
And the prime example for me is the Mancs. When you consider the players that have been key to their success over the past 7/8 years, the vast majority of them have been English and Irish. i.e Rooney, Ferdinand, Neville, Keane, Beckham, Giggs, Scholes etc. I know players like Ronaldo also had a major influence, but again he didn't wait around too long.
You suggested the other day that we should build a team around players like Suarez, which I think would be rather naive as I reckon the odds of him being a Liverpool player in 3/4 years time are very slim. Yes players like him are a major addition to the team, but it is important to keep a focus on players that are likely to stick with the club during the prime of their careers.
at the Gif, similar to Carroll and Downing, the big man lifting him up like a little pygmie!
3 players who've had their various levels of criticism and media pressure, would love to see the 3 of them clicking!
I bet Kenny got very very excited by that hug!
He spends way too much time on his arse for such a big man. Way too much.
Having said that he played well in that game albeit against weak opposition. I hope he continues to start for the rest of the season.
Forgive me but I'm gonna have to double check all those ages before I take it as gospel.
Reserves are taking on Everton in a 2pm kick off today.
Oh I have learned from past mistakes. Made a point of checking each one before posting.