What to do with Suarez.

Can you hear me? Suarez laps up the love from the Kop

Liverpool have been through a lot in the last ten years; several catastrophic managers, player flops and scandals. They have gone from perennial champions of England and Europe to top half of the table strugglers. By almost every indicator this period will not be remembered fondly by the supporters of one of England’s greatest clubs. One bright spot, aside from the somehow managing to keep Gerrard at the club, has been the form and goal scoring prowess of Luis Suarez, the mercurial Uruguayan with the quick feet, burst of pace and Bugs Bunny grin. Like van Persie at Arsenal last season he has single-handedly carried the fortunes of the club on his back, scoring goals, making assists and a giving pundits and viewers something to talk about aside from how far the club have fallen. Unfortunately for the club, and as almost every pundit and media personality will tell you over and over and over again, many, if not most, of the headlines he has created haven’t been of the variety the club would have liked. For every dizzying exhibition of close control topped off by a stunning finish there has been a racism scandal; for every slide rule pass to an unseen teammate, a handball, dive or punch. Suarez, like many naturally gifted people possesses both the best and worst of man. The ability to create moments of sheer beauty, unimaginable to most, combined with moments of insane madness, as the frustration of having teammates not able to keep up with his brilliance and opponents who do not respect his gifts enough overwhelms him in moments of sheer stupidity. Former mercurial wunderkind Mario Balotelli is another naturally gifted football player qho often displayed this maddening tendency, one moment the hero, the next the cause of a moment of inexplicable stupidity, but where Balotelli can be likened to Jack Nicolson’s Joker, cartoonish and cheeky but capable of genuine acts of violence; Suarez is undoubtedly the Joker of Heath Ledger. A dark and frustrated presence, capable of acts of insanity bought about as a red mist decends.

I know who I would rather meet in a dark alley

Undoubtedly everyone will be well acquainted with Suarez’s latest indiscretion. The striker took offense at Branislav Ivanovic’s perceived over physicality whilst wrestling for the ball and decided to take a chomp out of his upper arm. Coincidentally it was almost at this very same point in the season a couple of years ago in Holland, whilst playing for Ajax, that Suarez committed almost the exact same crime. It was to be his final act in the Dutch League, as he was given a hefty suspension which ran to the end of the season before he was transferred to Liverpool. One wonders whether history will lay its cards out in the same order once again.

Don’t expect these two to exchange christmas cards any time soon.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this case has been the familiar overblown sense of morality and offense that most major columnists, pundits and commentators have taken. It is as if Suarez himself had talked his way into their respective places of work, hidden in a cupboard waiting for an opportune moment and jumped out, foaming at the mouth and chomping at the bit to snack on their own flesh. They seemed universally delighted at the trauma the incident caused to the institution of Liverpool FC, waxing lyrical about how the club should rid themselves of this talented menace for the sake of its history, how it is almost impossible for the club to stand by their man after this latest insult. It’s as if these writers had sat and watched as their colleagues encroached into their territory with the reporting of the Boston bombing and were determined to prove that they had news also worthy of such hyperbole and emotional fanaticism. Many of the said experts have spoken with dread about Suarez is only harming himself and will look back on his career with something resembling regret when he thinks of his antics. He will become a pariah in footballing circles, the black sheep in the world’s game. Surely such thinking is as mad as the act itself. Even now some of Europe’s top clubs will be licking their lips like sharks circling a lone surfer at the thought of a striker of Suarez’s quality becoming available for a discounted price. These experts weighed in like blind heavy weight boxers swinging haymakers when Carlos Tevez decided he liked the bench more than the pitch, stating his career was over; saying City’s fans would never accept him back; saying how he was doomed to waste his talent in some South American mud patch surrounded by youngsters dreaming of Europe. An apology, a little PR spinning and a couple of goals later however, and all is forgiven and forgotten, and the sea of light blue shirts once again sing the name of the little Argentine. Don’t believe it will be any different with Suarez.

Even at Ajax he gave his prominent front teeth a good working over.

Liverpool will no doubt stand by their man. They know that they are neither in a position to undermine Suarez’s position as the club’s most valuable player by publicly alienating him or devalue their most valuable asset by giving any public indication that he might be sold. They will tread a fine line of publicly condemning his actions whilst handling the problem internally. They will back him to the hilt, talk about what a good man he has and how this incident was one moment of madness because this is all they can do. For all the talk the real damage to the club will be minimal compared to the potential effects of selling him and replacing him with say, Andy Carroll. If Liverpool were a regular Champions League club with a squad full of world class players things would be different but that are not. Like most of these stories it will blow over during the off-season until his next run in with the disciplinary committee will see Sky Sports run through his ‘troubled time in England.’

Is this the man to lead Liverpool’s line should Suarez leave? Most Liverpool fans would hope not.

The final thought on the issue is in regards to Suarez’s mindset itself. The player is undoubtably frustrated at Liverpool’s season and should a reasonable offer come in for him he would no doubt be open to move to a Champions League club, after all, his nature suggests that he is someone who believes he is one of the best and believes he should be playing at the top. At the moment Liverpool cannot offer that. Undoubtably this frustration at being in a team some distance from the top table must be one of the reasons for his brain explosion and one wonders whether subconsciously he bit Ivanovic to make it impossible for Liverpool to keep him, after all it worked once before. Perhaps this one mad action would free him from a club that is stifling his natural ability by surrounding him with players of a lower calibre. Only Suarez himself knows the real reason.

 

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