Opinion: Jordan Henderson upholding Liverpool's threatened values
(Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

On Saturday, Liverpool revealed in a statement that vast numbers of Anfield staff would be placed on furlough.

This will predominantly affect those who simply do not have any work to do in the absence of matches, a club source told the Athletic.

As it stands, the UK government will pay 80% percent of their wages, with the club fulfilling the remaining 20%.

For the supporters looking to their club for moral leadership in these desperate times, this was tantamount to a betrayal.

Jamie Carragher spoke for many when he tweeted that the 'respect and goodwill' the club had earned through Jurgen Klopp's 'compassionate' rhetoric and their previous gestures had now been 'lost'. 

Stan Collymore, meanwhile, relayed fans' perceived 'disgust'. "Every Premier League owner has serious cash, and make money from skyrocketing values of clubs," he seethed, "so why aren't you getting about your owners dipping into their pocket."

Such aghast condemnation has been widespread.

The early promise

Liverpool's initial response to the uncertainty created by the suspension of the season deserved praise.

They took steps to protect some of the most vulnerable in their community, as an Athletic report explained.

Amid profound economic uncertainty, they set-up an Emergency Foodbank Appeal to stave off the very real threat of hunger for many poverty-stricken families.

And they took care to protect the elderly, who have been hit hardest by the virus, through the LFC Connect initiative, maintaining virtual contact and aiding with the collection of food and medicinal prescriptions.

Yes, Liverpool's staff may not be the most at-risk, but when they offloaded the burden of their salaries, they cast themselves as simply another opportunistic, profit-driven corporation.

And so the above measures, though important, ring frustratingly hollow.

It falls to Henderson to honour the badge

Jordan Henderson has long shouldered the weight of the Liverpool armband with distinction

Perhaps the most impressive of the countless examples of his service to the crest is his response to Sean Cox's life-changing injuries.

Cox was left in a coma for three months after being attacked by a Roma supporter outside Anfield ahead of the Champions League semifinal.

Henderson penned a letter to the Irishman's GAA club, calling for them to 'come together' in his honour, and he retrieved a supportive banner from the stands at the Stadio Olimpico and held it aloft with his team-mates, adding a sombre and thoughtful touch to his side's celebrations.

He went on to meet and embrace Cox at Anfield last November.

From the outset of this crisis, he has displayed energetic leadership.

Before the aforementioned Foodbank Appeal, Henderson had rallied the Liverpool squad to make a £40,000 donation to the North Liverpool branch which typically stations collectors outside Anfield. That could prove vital.

And now, according to various sources, he is at the centre of an effort among Premier League captains to raise sizeable funds for the National Health Service. 

It is not yet clear whether he will be successful, but Henderson's actions are nonetheless a comforting source of pride for Reds fans.

Does it 'mean more'?

Liverpool are not alone in furloughing their staff. Spurs, for instance, incurred round opprobrium after announcing their intention to do so last week.

But frankly, the actions of rivals should not matter, because this is a club which has always sought to set itself apart.

The exceptionalist slogan emblazoned on their team bus this season - 'This Means More' - is steeped in a sense of togetherness, of community, even steeped in socialism, reflecting the city's determinedly unique politics.

And to justify such preaching, Liverpool must show they are far more than a business.

Had they declared that they would pay their staff in full - without assistance - the wider footballing world would have applauded their example, but they would not necessarily have been surprised.

That is what makes this course of action, even though it ostensibly causes little damage, so appalling and disheartening.

Make no mistake, the club's 'You'll Never Walk Alone' spirit is very real. At times it is almost tangible.

But after controversies surrounding ticket prices and copyrighting, there is an increasing sense that said spirit resides almost solely in the fanbase, with Henderson battling to ensure it also pervades the dressing room.

For the ownership, YNWA appears to be merchandise rather than a mantra.

We can only hope they are compelled to change course, but we must also bank on the still more remote possibility that they do so for the right reasons.

VAVEL Logo