'Kevin Ball is exactly the kind of manager that my old team needs,' says Jordan Henderson

 

However mixed a reaction he may receive from his former fans at Sunderland today, Jordan Henderson knows there will be a warm welcome from the club's temporary manager. It will be mutual. Kevin Ball, who has been tasked with calming the waters after the storm-tossed era of Paolo Di Canio, was something of a mentor to the Liverpool midfielder in his early days at the Stadium of Light, as Henderson fondly recalled in the build-up to this afternoon's game.

"He was my manager when I went from school into full-time, up to the Under-18s," he said, with no trace of Scouse diluting the Wearside accent. "He was brilliant for me personally. He really taught me a lot in the years I worked with him. That's when I really started learning the game and he helped me do that. I owe a lot to him, he was a massive influence on me."

The relationship has continued in the two years since Henderson moved to Merseyside. The pair still talk and text, and Ball "will tell me if I'm doing good or bad". Once today's game is out of the way, Henderson hopes his old club pick themselves up off the Premier League floor and he would be delighted if Ball became manager permanently.

"He loves Sunderland. He's got Sunderland in his blood. He can definitely get them motivated. He'll want them to play as well. When we were coming through, a lot of people looked at Kevin Ball like he was [just] a fighter, a battler, a warrior on the pitch. As a manager he's all of that but he wants his teams to get the ball down and play good football.

"He did that with the Under-18s and I'm sure he'll be no different with the first team. He'll have a lot of respect from the players so I think he definitely could do it. It's someone like him that they need. I hope he does really well. My family still go to games and they have been disappointed of late."

That family found their loyalties divided right from the start after Henderson's transfer to Liverpool for an eye-watering £20 million. No sooner had the deal been done in June 2011 than the fixtures came out, sending Sunderland to Anfield as his first opponents.

"It was a little bit strange, but you have to deal with situations like that," he said of what turned out to be a 1-1 draw, followed by a 1-0 defeat in the away game, again to a mixed reception from Sunderland supporters: "I thought they were quite good but you're always going to get some that disagree. My family understand that so it's not difficult for them. It's a game of football and I'll be focusing on that and concentrating on getting a good result."

Liverpool had several of those to start the season, compensating for Henderson's disappointment at the unexpectedly feeble display of the England Under-21 team he captained at the European Championship last summer.

That hardly enhanced his prospects of adding to five senior caps, for which he must now rely on a series of impressive performances alongside Steven Gerrard in Liverpool red.

In the Capital One Cup defeat by Manchester United last week, Henderson began as a wing-back in what he felt was a successful 3-4-1-2 formation, the most encouraging aspect of it being the way in which Luis Suarez slotted straight back into the side alongside Daniel Sturridge after five months' absence.

"I think he's dealt with it [the 10-game suspension] brilliantly, he's been great in training, worked hard every single day even when he couldn't play," Henderson said. "He's a world-class player and for his first game in a while I thought he was top-drawer.

"Everybody just tries to blow up what they've seen in games but in terms of training and on a personal level he's been brilliant."

Not one to hog the spotlight, the former Mackem boy will be delighted for it to shine this afternoon on Suarez; and on the Sunderland dug-out too.

Sunderland v Liverpool is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 4pm

Jordan Henderson appears in EA SPORTS FIFA 14, available to buy now on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC from Game.co.uk. Get involved in the most popular mode in FIFA and start your Ultimate Team at: www.easports.com/uk/fifa/play

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little