It was only a matter of weeks ago that it seemed time was up for Jose Enrique, Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing at Anfield. Reportedly not in the long term plans of Brendan Rodgers he first poured scorn on the future of Enrique and Downing in September.
On Downing he said:
‘The big challenge for him now is that commitment to the cause – to fight – because he has the qualities. Talent alone is not enough. You have to work hard; you have to fight for the shirt. I will keep private the discussions Stewart and I have had but he is under no illusion that he has to fight.’
Enrique faced similar questions from his own manager:
‘Status does not matter. It is what you are like as a player. It doesn’t matter how much money you have come for. That doesn’t matter to me. I will play a 17-year-old if he fights and he has quality. It is quite easy.’
Henderson was also used sparingly at the start of the campaign as Rodgers was not enamoured with his, or indeed any of this trio’s performances on the pitch and training ground. The 22-year-old Wearsider was used as part of a potential deal to bring Clint Dempsey to the club in August and he spoke of that in November:
‘’When the manager told me I could go to Fulham it was a bit of a shock at first. I worked really hard to come to a club like Liverpool and I didn’t want to leave in a hurry. Some people might have thought they’d rather go and play football but I said I will continue to work hard every day, keep fighting and I believe I have the ability to be in the team.”
On recent evidence it would appear that Brendan Rodgers has certainly man-managed these three players exceptionally well. Before picking up another niggling injury Jose Enrique looked a man possessed down the left flank while Stewart Downing tore Fulham to shreds not long ago and looked at his best once again during the 5-0 thrashing of Norwich at the weekend. As for Henderson he has been true to his word and worked to the bone to get back in the first-team picture at Anfield; he was also exceptional this Saturday scoring a cracking goal to get the party started.
It certainly seems that Brendan Rodgers’ emphatic words of encouragement and motivational tools have worked on these three players as he finally seems to be getting something near his money worth for their talent and price-tags.
It makes you wonder if he ever really had any intention of selling any of them; or whether he used the threat of an acrimonious Anfield axing and the pure intrinsic motivation to prove him wrong; to the benefit of the team.
How do you feel Brendan Rodgers has treated these players?
image: © kong niffe