Jordan Henderson hailed as “a manager’s dream” after England’s win over Tunisia

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The pressure was on Jordan Henderson to perform for England on Monday night, but the Liverpool man excelled as the Three Lions beat Tunisia 2-1.

Much of the talk in the leadup to England’s World Cup opener surrounded Gareth Southgate’s selection dilemma of whether to go with Henderson or Eric Dier in defensive midfield.

Despite the Spurs man looking favourite to occupy the role at one point, Liverpool’s skipper was eventually preferred as England kicked off their campaign.

Harry Kane’s double, including a dramatic stoppage-time winner, earned Southgate’s men a crucial victory, and Henderson more than played his part with an influential showing.

His range of passing caught the eye all evening and he was authoritative throughout, looking every bit a player who recently captained his club side to the Champions League final.

The 28-year-old does not always receive widespread acclaim, but dominant voices within the game lauded his performance, including ITV pundits Gary Neville and Martin O’Neill:

Neville described Henderson as a “manager’s dream,” highlighting how he had endeavoured to alter his approach in recent seasons, and suggested he had warranted selection over Dier:

“His game’s changed so much. Think about four years ago when Liverpool nearly won the league under Brendan Rodgers…he was a box-to-box midfield player and Steven Gerrard was sitting in there.

“Now he has evolved his game, he’s matured. He’s able to do what Martin’s just showed us in terms of sitting back. He wouldn’t have been able to do that a few years ago.

“He wants to learn all the time, he works hard, he’s conscientious, he’s a manager’s dream.

“And tonight—when he was under pressure to win the spot, he looks like he’s cemented [it].”

Frank Lampard, working for the BBC this summer, was also full of praise for his former international team-mate:

“With Jordan Henderson I wasn’t properly sure what kind of midfielder he was a couple of years ago, he was a bit of an all-rounder.

“But he’s certainly a leader, he’s matured on and off the pitch and he’s used real intelligence to take that role.

“He’s got great drive in him. The one question you mentioned is can he get a pass a bit earlier and we saw that he can tonight.

“You need a passer and you need the movement between the lines and we had that both, particularly in the first half.”

Jordan Henderson of England during the FIFA World Cup 2018 Group G match at the Volgograd Arena, Volgograd. Picture date 18th June 2018. Picture credit should read: David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

On social media, many showered Henderson with praise…

https://twitter.com/LFCStanleyHouse/status/1008791436287004672

There were, of course, the usual dissenting voices…

https://twitter.com/AndrewStraits/status/1008792721870422016

England are next in action against Panama on Sunday afternoon, and after Henderson’s comfortable display in Volgograd he could keep his place over Dier in midfield.

However, with Belgium to come next Thursday he could be preserved—as Southgate’s first-choice defensive midfielder.

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