John Henry Provides Another Example of Leadership with Luis Suarez Plane Offer

Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2013

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 15:  (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) (NO SALES) Pricipal owner John W Henry of Liverpool speaks at the 24th Hillsborough Anniversary Memorial Service at Anfield on April 15, 2013 in Liverpool, England. Thousands of fans, friends and relatives took part in the service at Liverpool's Anfield Stadium to mark the 24th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. A total of 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives during a crush at an FA Cup semi final against Nottingham Forest at the Hillsborough football ground in Sheffield, South Yorkshire in 1989. (Photo by Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The news that John W. Henry has offered his private jet to Luis Suarez in order for him to return more quickly from international duty, as reported by the Guardian, is another example of the Liverpool owner's leadership qualities.

It also shows the importance of Suarez to Liverpool, the importance of the Merseyside derby and the importance of achieving a top-four finish this season. Liverpool must take the opportunity now, and Henry knows it.

Liverpool can, albeit perhaps only temporarily, go top of the Premier League should they win at Goodison Park on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers' side face a tricky Christmas fixture schedule that sees them visit White Hart Lane, Eastlands and Stamford Bridge in the space of a fortnight. Before then, Hull, Norwich and West Ham are the opponents. Momentum needs to be maintained in the derby going into such fixtures.

With Daniel Sturridge struggling for full fitness but still to start for England against Germany, the importance of having Suarez fully fit is further emphasised. The Uruguayan was on form in this fixture last season—denied a winner by a wrong offside decision.

Suarez celebrates in style last season at Goodison.
Suarez celebrates in style last season at Goodison.Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

 

High Expectations

We've all been made fully aware of how Henry clearly recognises the importance of Suarez. The American owner handled the summer transfer saga swiftly and admirably.

"He is one of the best players in the world. I have no reason to believe that he won't continue to be" said Henry to the club's official website in August.

Suarez has proven his words to be correct, earning himself a Ballon d'Or nomination in the process.

The same interview saw Henry say of the coming season that he has high expectations. "I think we'll surprise people this year," he explained. Again, he's been proven right thus far.

Henry is showing he is willing to do whatever he can in order to achieve those high expectations. Just how high are those expectations? Is a title challenge in Henry's thoughts?

Perhaps the January transfer window will provide the answers to that question—big investment will clearly be a signal of intent.

 

IPCC Leaflets

Another example of Henry's involvement resulting in swift action came earlier this month.

The incident arrived when Liverpool FC refused to agree to handing out IPCC Hillsborough appeal leaflets inside Anfield. Supporters subsequently contacted Henry via twitter to express their disappointment at such a decision. 

@LiamskiLFC @LFC checking

— John W. Henry (@John_W_Henry) October 18, 2013

Henry replied to one such tweet to say he was looking into the situation. The next day it was announced that leaflets would be allowed to be given out and supporters' group Spirit of Shankly did so for the match at home to Fulham.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25:  Liverpool owner John Henry and wife Linda Pizzuti  look on prior to the Carling Cup Semi Final Second Leg match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on January 25, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Michae
Michael Regan/Getty Images

This incident shows many things—not least the power of social media when used correctly but also the open communication Henry has with the club and its supporters. This is a man who, shortly after his purchase of the Reds, sat down with several high-profile supporters' groups and writers about the club.

It also shows Henry's empathy and understanding of Hillsborough. Henry understands the values that "The Liverpool Way" represents.

Worryingly, though, it highlights a concern that many Liverpool supporters have long held—the lack of strong leadership of the club on Merseyside. Should Henry have had to step in to resolve such an issue, or should managing director Ian Ayre have been able to take the action required?

Regardless, when Henry gets involved at Anfield, things get done.

He should get involved more often.