Liverpool lullabies: Jordan Henderson, David Ngog and the wicked media

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It goes without saying that Salut! Sunderland is sad at the imminent departure of just the sort of player we rather hoped Sunderland AFC would see as central to future development. After the Darren Bent saga, we also hoped we would never again sell a key player without having a suitable replacement or replacements lined up. It remains to be seen whether our wish will be granted in at least that respect …

See also: Thanks, Jordan, goodbye – and give us a wave at Anfield

So after all the “Jordan Henderson’s going nowhere” posturing, all the attacks on sports journalists for supposedly making up transfer stories, guess what? Reports all over the press, on the web and on the air say Jordan Henderson has all but been sold to Liverpool, just as the reviled hacks said would be the case. And just as I finish writing this piece, up pops a statement from Sunderland AFC:

Jordan Henderson will hold talks with Liverpool after the two clubs agreed a fee for the midfielder.
The 20-year-old, who played for England under-21s on Sunday, is set to discuss personal terms with the Anfield club.
A club spokesperson said: “A fee has been agreed with Liverpool for Jordan Henderson and he travels to Anfield today with the club’s blessing.”

With the club’s blessing! All we seem to be waiting for, it seems, is word on whether the fee is £20m, £13m plus David Ngog or something else entirely. On the reported inclusion of Ngog in the deal, I will say no more just now than that he was not the sort of player I had in mind when hoping against hope that we would not repeat the glaring errors of January.

The media’s role in the Henderson transfer has become a fascinating side story of its own.

Salut! Sunderland is no friend of bad journalism, as its track record should persuade any fair-minded reader.

I am a journalist and as proud of my trade as others are proud to be lawyers, teachers, IT specialists, engineers, plumbers and builders. There are rogues in journalism just as they are to be found in every other group. And there are people getting on with doing the job they’re paid for.

Football writers have a right and a duty to give share with their readers the information they discover. If that information is wrong, or of no interest, they are soon enough caught out.

My mainly electronic friends at the Blackcats list were on top form yesterday, lambasting the press for inventing talk of Jordan’s impending departure and invoking all manner of justification for their attacks: “the stories have no quotes”, “Jordan’s mam says he’s happy”, contrary to “all information coming out of the club”. No one quite got as far as citing the Zinoviev Letter as evidence that the Daily Mail was up to scurrilous old tricks, dreaming up transfer twaddle to keep the circulation people happy and stop Labour ever regaining power, but it was a close-run thing.

And yet a whole army of media outlets is not, after all, about to experience large portions of egg colliding with face. The story turns out to be true and to have been true all along.

It didn’t matter a hoot that few if any of the reports contained direct quotes from the clubs, the player or the player’s representatives. It didn’t matter what someone’s mate thought Jordan’s mam might have said. Or that the two clubs had kept lips sealed.

Why should that any of that surprise anyone? If the clubs insist on observing Trappist vows of silence on their official sites while speculation rages about issues of vital importance to them and their supporters, they are hardly then going to make candid, informative statements in response to questions from the media. Families, too, may be sucked into the whole ritual of half-truths and disinformation.

What actually goes on in such affairs is that people in the know – and they could be connected with the club, the player’s agent or the player himself – brief favoured journalists on what is going on. Lines are undoubtedly spun, interest talked up, money exaggerated; the process is intended by those doing the briefing to be self-serving. But that doen’t make the information that is published wrong. Or at least not always.

If you have a long memory, you may recall my own cautionary words about transfer speculation.

A year ago, I wrote: “Never forget what has been mentioned here more than once: in a recent pre-season (and therefore, no doubt in others too), only a handful of the scores of players with whom we had been confidently linked had ever actually crossed our radar. And nearly as many other players had been targets without the rumour mill getting so much as a sniff.”

All you need do is apply ordinary common sense to every story. Work out for yourselves whose interests are best served by letting it be known that this or that player is a target, wants to leave, is demanding higher wages and so on.

Often, it is wisest to ignore the gossip. I admit that I dislike the transfer rumour mill, not least because it seems in our case to concern either the possible loss of players we should be keeping or players we want but will quickly be sought by others (and have Wags who’d prefer to go there) as soon as our interest is known.

But when the reporting of supposed negotiations is as detailed as it has been in the Jordan Henderson case, it is time to take note and acknowledge that something is probably afoot. At different points, we have heard about haggling on price, Henderson’s own preferences on destination (Manchester or Liverpool) and timing, pay rates, exchange deal possibilities. Forget the easy pot shots at bits of the press we may dislike; someone, it has seemed to me all along, has been briefing like mad. I have no inside track but suspect the hand of an agent.

For my last word, for now, on the media’s role, I offer this extract from the “don’t trust the hacks” debate at Blackcats:


In all the stories the daily heil has published on the Henderson move there has not been one quote. Nor has anyone had the b**** to put their names to this guff. It’s always the ‘daily mail reporter’. They’re *****.


They might be, Mark, and I’ll be the first to laugh in their faces if the club announces today that Henderson is going nowhere, wants to go nowhere and was never the subject of bidding, intense or otherwise, from Liverpool or anyone and that the whole story was made up by the Mail, aided and abetted by the BBC, the Times and just about anyone else you can think of. And that for all his exceptional abilities as a diver (vs Birmingham City the season before last, more accomplished even than Eduardo’s v Celtic), we haven’t the least interest in Ngog.
And if he goes, with or without Ngog coming, I know I can rely on fair-minded folk here to say: “Yes, they certainly had their ears close the ground, and their sources turned out to be spot on. There may not have been a direct quote, but that may have been a condition set by their sources – and what reliable sources they were.”

And as for Jordan, I am bitterly disappointed that he sees his future away from the club that nurtured his great talent. I am sad that the club was unable to resist what I accept must have been weighty pressure to sell. I am annoyed at those who loudly barracked the player during his lapses from top form, and hope this had nothing to do with his decision to leave, and I am apprehensive about how our own programme of acquisitions will proceed between now and August.

But I wish the lad well.

Monsieur Salut

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9 thoughts on “Liverpool lullabies: Jordan Henderson, David Ngog and the wicked media”

  1. I will say this and try to inject something positive into what is a depressing feeling for most of us. I don’t think that Jack Colback’s development has anything to do with Henderson being sold. They are very different players but I do believe that in the longer term (provided he is not sold for a small fortune), Colback will be more of an asset to Sunderland than Henderson has been to date, or would have been had he stayed. Colback for me, is the best youngster I’ve seen us bring through since Michael Bridges over a decade and a half ago.

    I sincerely hope that we are not going to be signing N’Gog or anyone of similar quality this summer. If so, then we are relegation bound.

  2. Amongst all of the spurious transfer rumours I’ve read in recent months, this was the one that really was going to happen, especially as the stories multiplied in the last two weeks.
    If Jordan’s decision to leave was made partly because of the shameful abuse he received, then who could blame him?
    If he left because he’s ambitious and feels he might find a measure of success in King Kenny’s revolution, it’s understandable too; and can any one of us criticise him for choosing to accept his wages being quadrupled?
    Neither can we blame SAFC who, at the moment, would be foolish to pay 60 or 80,000 per week to a 21 year old.
    Nothing unexpected has happened here, there’s nothing to argue about, it’s the way football is these days.
    I agree with Ken G in saying that only in time will we know if anyone has made a mistake and I have to echo his comments on David N’Gog, a player who cost £1.5 mill., wasn’t universally popular with the LFC fans and could possibly cost us an awful lot.

  3. The most disappointing thing about the Henderson transfer? For me it’s the continual confirmation that we’re still just a selling club, our better players moving on when someone with cash comes calling. Not for us the refusal to sell in order to build something stronger, no we just accept our place in the football world and acquiesce to the ‘bigger’ clubs. Apparently one of the things that persuaded the club to sell was the emergence of Colback; aren’t we allowed to have 2 good young midfielders to build our future on? No, clubs like us are only allowed one at a time. But, of course, if Colback has a good season he’ll be off next June, so no point in even getting excited about his potential. Come on, Niall, let’s hear all about the club’s ambition again.
    I also sincerely hope that if N’Gog is part of the deal, they’ve paid us 25 million, given the immense drag factor someone of his ‘ability’ will bring to a squad that already struggles in front of goal. Didn’t he only ever score against us?

  4. At the end of the day the decison is down to Jordan Henderson and not Steve Bruce. I suspect that he feels playing for a ‘top side’ will give him abetter chance of developing as a player and pursuing his international career. Footballers cannot risk missing such opportunities when they arise. It may never come along again. Fans have to accept that there is little loyalty in players,just raw ambition which needs to be fulfilled asap in what can be a very short career
    Despite finishing tenth we are still a team seen by many as vulnerable to relegation and I am sure that has influenced his decison to leave. Personally I dislike Liverpool FC because of the arrogance of their fans and the club’s love affair with the national media. Early in the season when they were struggling and the media were saying how awful it would be if they got relegated, I was thinking the opposite. IMO it would be good for football if Liverpool( or MUFC, Chelsea, Arsena orl City) had finished in the bottom three. Unfortunately the natural order of the Premiership was maintained.

  5. Although Ngog hasn’t set the world on fire at LFC I think you’ll find that a regular run of games will help him.

    He has scored dome good/important goals for us.

    Euro goals, Against Arsenal and even Man U.

  6. Selling the family silver springs to mind. But worst still is the money being left in the hands of those who will make good use of it.

    As for Ngog, he was fringe player at Anfield what good is he to us.

    Where are we going if we sell our best players ,’ to hell in boat’ springs to mind. Bruce always complained at having to sell his best players at Wigan et al, but now we see history repeat itself.

    The money is very good for a home raised player but what message does this send out. I always felt uncomfortable with SB’s persistent mantra regarding every player has his price. We are selling quality to our rivals and it is to the detriment of our Club and future prospects.

  7. Phew, glad you said ‘N’Gog’ and not ‘N’Zog’! Mind you, he will be leaving us and I’d rather it be to Sunderland than the Barcodes. Why on Earth would he want to go back to a club who did nothing but abuse him anyway?

    My gut feeling is that he will be going either to Liverpool or back to France.

    Good luck for next season and amazingly I’ll still be around to entertain/bore you all!

  8. Come on here and have your say about any aspect of the Jordan Henderson story. I posted it just before the likely transfer became official and revised it accordingly. It is a sad day for SAFC.

    If you have not posted before, please bear with me if your comment experiences a short delay for anti-spam moderation before appearing.

  9. We will obviously have to wait until the dust settles before we can make a reasoned assessment of the deal,but on the face of it there will be great disappointment in losing a very talented local lad.I don’t feel N’Gog is good value for money either.I really hope there is a definite strategy in these dealings otherwise the future has just become much worse.

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