Reading’s midfield looks that bit stronger with the addition of Jeff Hendrick. The 30-year-old joined the Royals on loan for the season on Tuesday afternoon, moving from Premier League side Newcastle United.
He’s not had the best time up in the north east since moving there from Burnley a couple of years ago. As Magpies fan Jake Jackman discusses below, Hendrick didn’t really get going.
How would you sum up Jeff Hendrick's time at Newcastle United?
It didn't really get started. After signing, he scored on his debut at West Ham and looked like he would be a good player for us, but he didn't really impact matches.
Hendrick doesn't really excel at any one thing and he is a jack of all trades. The Burnley system suited him, but at Newcastle, he just looked short of the required quality. Eddie Howe didn't use him once, which I guess, speaks volumes.
Why didn’t it work out for him at Newcastle?
I think he was just signed because he was a free agent and easily attainable. There was never really a plan and Steve Bruce kept switching formations which made it difficult for any player to really settle. Hendrick started well, but as soon as we went to three at the back, there wasn’t a place for him. Even in the Ashley years, he didn’t have the talent to get in the first team.
What style of midfielder is he?
I couldn’t really tell you. He played as a right winger, a centre midfielder and a number 10 for us. He didn’t really look a natural in any of them.
Hendrick is probably best as a number 10 with license to make runs into goal-scoring positions. His movement in the final third is probably his biggest strength. He works hard, but I wouldn’t say he excels at passing, dribbling or tackling. A jack of all trades, as suggested before.
What are his main strengths?
His main strength is probably his movement in the final third. Hendrick is very good at getting into goal-scoring positions. At Newcastle, he didn’t show composure to take them at times, but he always carried a threat.
At Premier League level, he just lacked across the board. His touch wasn’t good enough, he wasn’t accurate enough with his passing and he was easily beaten when run at. It’s not the best reference, but at Championship level, I would expect him to be competitive across all of those areas.
Do you have any stand-out memories of him for good or bad reasons?
Not really. He scored the final goal of the Mike Ashley era. I guess that is notable, but not for the action in itself. Hendrick did score on his debut and there was optimism at that stage that he would be a good addition.
What's his character like?
Hendrick has always come across as a good egg. He works hard and seems to be well liked in the dressing room. In January, he chose to move away on loan while others stayed at Newcastle and weren’t registered. That is another example of his willingness to play football.
Will he be a success at Reading?
The Championship is definitely his level. I think he should do well at that level, without ever standing out. If you find a consistent role for him, he should perform to a decent standard. He will never be one of your stars though.