Jordan Henderson is one transfer Manchester United will rue after narrowly missing out on a midfielder when he was at Sunderland as Liverpool edged out their rivals to sign him
Jordan Henderson is one that goes into that category as the Red Devils narrowly missed out on a midfielder when he was at Sunderland before Liverpool edged out their rivals to sign him. In fact, in the summer of 2011, both clubs were in a tussle to sign several of the same players. Phil Jones was targeted by the Reds but United would snap up the defender from Blackburn Rovers just days after Henderson arrived at Anfield for £20million.
Liverpool had already brought in another homegrown talent in Andy Carroll in a club-record £35m deal from newcastle the previous January, as well as signing Stewart Downing from Aston Villa in a £20m, but they would miss out on his team-mate Ashley Young to the Red Devils yet again as the rivals went back and forth with each other in the transfer market .
Ferguson would claim that he did not lose any sleep over Liverpool’s £75million spend on the trio as he explained why he had decided not to pursue a move for Henderson.
He said in his autobiography: “Liverpool embarked on another phase of major rebuilding yet few of the signings made in Kenny’s time haunted me at night,” the Scot wrote. “We looked at Jordan Henderson a lot and Steve Bruce was unfailingly enthusiastic about him.
“Against that we noticed that Henderson runs from his knees, with a straight back, while the modern footballer runs from his hips. We thought his gait might cause him problems later in his career.
“Stewart Downing cost Liverpool £20m. He had talent but he was not the bravest or the quickest. He was a good crosser and striker of the ball. But £20m?
“Andy Carroll, who also joined for £35m, was in our northeast school of excellence, along with Downing… The FA closed it down after complaints from Sunderland and Newcastle. This was at the time academies started.
“The Carroll signing was a reaction to the Torres windfall of £50m. Andy’s problem was his mobility, his speed across the ground. Unless the ball is going to be in the box the whole time, it’s very difficult to play the way Andy Carroll does because defenders push out so well these days. You look for movement in the modern striker.”
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Ferguson made a bold prediction about Jones in his final season in charge by claiming he could be United’s best-ever player, which hasn’t quite gone according to plan.
“You saw Jones tonight…arguably the way he is looking, he could be our best ever player,” Ferguson said after winning the title in 2013. “I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, no matter where we play him.
“At 21 years of age, he is going to be a phenomenal player. I think he can play anywhere on the pitch. He has such a massive influence, with his instinct and reading of the game. He has a drive about him.”
Ferguson doesn’t often look silly but as both players faced off at Anfield on Tuesday night as Liverpool ran out 4-0 winnersit’s clear who has been the better signing of the two.
Jones has been hampered by injuries in recent years which Ferguson couldn’t have seen coming, but he did get it all wrong with Henderson, who has captained the Reds to premier league and Champions League titles and has a chance of repeating that feat this season with an unprecedented quadruple up for grabs.