Since joining the club at the start of the 2011/12 season Henderson has played his part in keeping the Lions in the Championship and helping us compete in the race for a play-off spot.
Last season the former Sheffield United frontman was Millwall’s top scorer with 15 goals in 31 league appearances for Millwall, six of those goals being in hat-trick performances away to Leicester City and Barnsley respectively. Of the 15 goals Henderson scored, only five goals were either the opening or winning goal. Take the two hat-ticks away and its 11 goals and three being the opening or winning goals.
I am in no way knocking his contribution during his tenure at the club, when he was fit and playing, he was almost unplayable. Leicester and Burnley found that out.
The issue I had with Henderson was his injury record, something that was flagged up from the start when he joined the club back in 2011. When he wasn’t injured and he was playing, invariably he would play well and give is all – a real Millwall-type player.
His goal per game ratio is impressive too, considering the number of games played. 26 goals in 56 games in all competitions tells its own story, working out at under a goal every three games. In the 74 league games Millwall have played since Darius Henderson arrived at the club, he has scored 22 goals in the 51 he has played and still missed 23 games, that’s half a season!
As mentioned previously, only five of Henderson’s goals last season were either opening or winning goals, this season that statistic stands are five. So overall, even though Henderson has scored 22 goals, only ten have been ones that are influential in a game. Now I know all goals are, the point is he has scored the majority of his goals when the team are winning or are comfortable.
We will miss Henderson’s physicality up front and his unequivocal knack of winning headers and flicking the ball on, along with holding up play for others to join in. That is something that needs to be addressed going forward when a replacement is found. Henderson can and will be replaced.
When fit and available, he is a top player to have at your club. He will be a loss to Millwall, but he is not the be all and end all of our goal scoring or our season by any means.
Millwall still have a great chance of reaching the play-offs with the position the team are in and the tradition of the club to finish a season strongly and, if I may, going back to the important goals relativity – Andy Keogh has scored more important goals than Henderson.
We have a player in Keogh who on his day is Premier League player, he oozes class and his touch and technique are something that might be taken for granted from our fans. He scored seven in 20 games last season after his January move from Wolverhampton Wanderers and this term has netted six times in 22 games this term, including the audacious chipped penalty at the Reebok Stadium against Bolton Wanderers on January 12th.
Of the ten goals Andy Keogh got last season, seven were either the opening or winning goal and four goals that have proved vital this season. That’s 11 of Keogh’s 16 league goals which have been influential. Keogh is still a player that can win games, with or without Henderson.
We ultimately stayed in the Championship last season without Darius Henderson. Keogh scored the goals to keep us up in the final seven games – along with Harry Kane, the player that replaced the injured Henderson. In the grand scheme of things, Millwall are stronger with Andy Keogh, but we would be weaker without Henderson.
It will be a loss but something we will get over. We got over Steve Morison and Neil Harris going, we will get over Chris Wood and Henderson leaving. We did it last season in a vital stage of the season when Hendo was injured; we can do it again, as long as the right replacement is bought in. That player must complement our main forward option in Keogh.
The season is still alive and kicking and the timing isn’t the best, I hope I’m proved right and Millwall replace Henderson to be striker heavy rather than striker light for the remainder of the season and finish strongly as I believe we can.
Best of luck to Henderson at Forest, if they wrap him in cotton wool, they have a player who on his day is unplayable. Let’s hope that day isn’t Saturday 27th April 2013.
Written by Jay Taylor, We Are Going Up’s Millwall blogger
Jay tweets at @jay_taylor18