The Roker Ramble: Time To Lay Off Henderson And Get Behind England

Leave Jordan Henderson and England's other young players alone. At least they wanted to play.

He doesn't play for us any more, but it still gets on my nerves that the wider media are seemingly taking it in turns to bash former Sunderland midfield man Jordan Henderson after his recent call up to the Euro 2012 squad.

Why people are choosing to have a pop at him after he's just achieved what is quite possibly the best thing to happen to him in his career so far? Can't we all just get behind him or even be remotely pleased for him? It would appear if you're an avid reader of the mainstream media, you can't. He's officially been declared rubbish by Fleet Street's finest (sic) and you should think that too.

I've had enough...

Prior to the competition there was a huge cry for us to follow the relatively successful German model. I say relative here as despite the fact they're clearly much better than us, they're still without a trophy since 1996's extra time, Golden Goal win over the Czech Republic.

Never the less, they're much better than us, and barring that 5-1 win many moons ago have tended to outclass us, especially in South Africa in 2010 when a group of younger, hungrier players who'd played together for years through various youth teams did it at the highest level.

We saw it, suffered it, and thought collectively as a nation of football fans "that's the way to do it" next time around. Lets bring in some younger players who want to play for us, and although this year may not be "the year" it will be good experience for say Brazil 2014 or France 2016.

Since then we've undergone a change of manager. Fabio Capello has been axed, and much to the chagrin of many of his friends in the media, Harry Redknapp was not appointed in his place, but Roy Hodgson. I'll be the first to say that I wouldn't have minded Harry. I said so on these very pages around the time, but that doesn't necessarily mean Hodgson is the wrong choice or a bad choice, just a different one which I'm perfectly happy with.

And so he's the man who's been charged with delivering success, or at the very least respectability back to England. While Redknapp mulled things over, Hodgson actually wanted the job. You can't ask for much more really. What we also wanted was players on the pitch who wanted to be there, and didn't have to be coerced into having to actually represent their country.

So why everyone is up in arms about the fact Jordan Henderson has been drafted in after injuries to Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry, plus of course lingering doubts over Scott "Scotty" Parker's achilles, is beyond me. I just can't understand it at all.

Since his move to Liverpool, Henderson has in large been branded a 'flop' by some of the more ridiculous Liverpool fans, and those who listen to them in the media. He hasn't set the world alight by any stretch, but he hasn't been terrible. Much the same as he was at Sunderland really prior to, if any of these so called commentators had chose to venture north of Manchester to take in a game, they'd have known that Liverpool were not buying a finished article by any stretch.

Henderson remains very much a work in progress, yet to find a natural position, not helped by being played here, there and everywhere under Kenny Dalglish last season. Some say he's going to end up a wide player, I'd say he needs a run in the middle as he does possess an excellent range of passing and vision.

The injuries to Barry and Lampard have come as a surprise and a shock, not to mention you'd have to imagine an fully fit Jack Wilshere would have been on the plane too ahead of Henderson, so we're very much down to the bare bones at the position.

When it's almost 99.9% certain this isn't a tournament we're going to win, it's an excellent chance to provide some of the younger players who are going to feature in tournaments for the next decade or so some invaluable experience.

The initial outcry that Henderson got the nod over say Michael Carrick or Paul Scholes is outrageous. While both are better players than Henderson, that cannot be denied, both appear to have turned their back on England. Carrick declined the opportunity to be on the standby list. That's his choice, and very much the choice of a diva who didn't get his own way first time around throwing a strop. Scholes already retired from international football once, and football in general before coming back and playing very well down the stretch for Manchester United. Is it worth trying to convince the 37-year old to return to the national fold? No, he should need convincing. No player should. Scholes isn't the future, and never will be. Leave him be.

So where does that leave Roy Hodgson? Certainly without options. The only viable alternative in my eyes would be Leon Britton form Swansea City, who also had a fine season, however he's also creeping up in age, and without international experience. At least Henderson has been there, done that with various youth set-ups on a national level. Now becoming a squad player at this tournament is the natural progression for him.

I don't envisage Henderson will see a kick in Poland or Ukraine, but those who criticise need to take a step back and lay off the lad. When people react like this, it's quite a credit that anyone would even want to go through the process of playing for their country.

Henderson is set to be around for some time. No, he isn't a £16m player yet, but he can't help the price tag, and I am still convinced he will go on to have a fantastic career and become a regular in England squads to come.

Get behind the lad, get behind the 23 players who wanted to go out there and give their all for the country, no matter if they fit your club agenda or not. England is rebuilding, this is part of the process. If you can't get behind it, then just leave it alone and go back to squabbling over whether or not Lampard and Gerrard can play together, because that's certainly the way forward isn't it?

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