TO thoroughly misquote John Lennon: Last night the wife said…”How do you feel about this whole Suarez thing then?”
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, my wife’s a Blue. A fanatical Blue. Her whole family is. She has an uncle who on meeting me for the first time – years ago in a social club – shook my hand, found out I was Red, went straight to the toilets and washed his hands. The family were mortified, I was hysterical. Funniest thing I’d ever seen.
The fact that she said his name without her usual revulsion or any derogatory comments meant this was a serious question so I answered it seriously.
In due deference to my wife, she listened seriously – not even reacting to that other name that Evertonians seem to have such an issue with.
And this is what I said:
It’s hard, it’s the hardest question that I think you can ask a Liverpudlian at the moment. How do we feel about Luis Suarez? On the one hand he’s the single greatest footballer I’ve seen in the flesh since Dalglish in his heyday. There was a period between November and March where he was, without any question at all, the single finest footballer on the planet. He was doing the unbelievable, he was casually achieving moments of glory that drew gasps. What he did to Norwich? The audacity of that shot from near enough the half way line? The ball that he put ROUND Leroy Fer – and it can’t be stated enough, ROUND, not over or past? His reaction to that? The way he showed that even he couldn’t believe what he’d just done?
And he was playing with a freedom and a joy and a level of enjoyment in his own performance that I don’t think I’ve ever seen in any footballer. That’s ANY footballer. He was loving everything that was happening to him and for him and round him.
And the team had been rebuilt in his image. His best play was the team’s best play, his best period, their best period. His glorious, beautiful, free, insanity infected everybody around him. We could try the ridiculous because we knew it worked, because Luis had shown that it worked. We could do ANYTHING. So we did.
But. And there’s several buts here. But. He went somewhat off the boil toward the end of the season. His form wasn’t as blistering. But that’s okay, most people’s form never gets to be that blistering so falling back a bit still puts you above the realms of the merely mortal. You could see the signs though, you could see some of the petulance returning. Some of the negative reactions that had been there in the previous seasons when a game hadn’t gone his way – back when he’d try the impossible because he didn’t believe in the players alongside him to achieve the possible.
Do you know what I mean? The points where he wouldn’t play a short ball to a Downing or a Carroll because there was no point, so he might as well try and beat eleven men on his own? He hadn’t gone back to that obviously, the trust was still there, but some of his reactions to events around him were beginning to look familiar.
It’s a stress thing isn’t it? There’s something wrong with the way that Luis reacts to stress and possibly the way that the the Palace 3-3 broke him, physically broke him, mentally broke him, the way he saw the dream fading, maybe that’s part of what we’ve just seen.
But we were managing him. Brendan was managing him. Dr Steve was managing him. Meltdown didn’t seem to be an option. Disappointment perhaps but not meltdown. There was no indication that ‘this’, all of ‘this’, lay in the future waiting to ambush us once again. We were doing a good job. WE were doing a good job. Liverpool were doing a good job.
And then we send him away with his country and we trust them to do the same job but maybe they didn’t, maybe they can’t, maybe being with him for three weeks doesn’t have the same impact, doesn’t create the same understudying and comprehension as five days a week for a year does. It can’t, can it?
As a sports psychologist (whose name I didn’t catch) told City Talk’s breakfast show last week, Luis Suarez went from being injured, being operated on, being in a wheelchair to being on a football field in three weeks while the whole world tells anyone who’ll listen that the fate of Uruguay, the destiny of the team, the entire country, every man, woman and child’s hopes, dreams and fears rested on the shoulders of one man.
And as that one man saw those hopes and dreams fading he did something stupid. Again.
I’m not going to analyse the bite. I can’t. Other people have written on that already with more depth and insight than I can find in my soul at the moment. I got into arguments about the bite though. I didn’t defend it, just pointed out that I was past caring. He didn’t do it while playing for us so I was happy to be as two faced as I wanted, to have as many double standards as I felt like having and any fan of any other team who said they wouldn’t feel exactly the same way was only kidding themselves.
I didn’t care.
And then I started caring. Again. He’d done it again. And he was denying it again. And there’s got to be something (else) wrong with him if he’s denying it. It’s so bloody obvious. Luis, you bit him, cough to it, take the punishment and move on. Hold on. They’re punishing us more than they’re punishing Uruguay? How does that work? Seriously, is this time to take the money and run? Should we move him on, invest the fee in a few top class players, move on. We take control of the situation, we make the decision to sell, he looks like he’s done the right thing by us. Everybody’s happy.
Then Barca stuck their oar in and suddenly the rumours are growing stronger and those journalists that you know KNOW what they’re talking about (we all know the ones we trust) are readying us for the inevitable. But that Sanchez lad looks good, fifty million and Sanchez, Sanchez feeding Sturridge, Sanchez doing…that, oh that’s impressive, good timing World Cup, showing me what I’ve got coming. Yeah, this’ll do. It’s not like for like but look at what we’re doing – Lallana done (pictures in training kit as I write, happy with that) Origi supposedly on his way, Markovic apparently in negotiation.
We’re spending. It’s done isn’t it? The Suarez deal is done. We’re spending the money. Okay, I can cope with it. Sanchez plus £50m? Go on then. Good luck Luis, it was emotional. We’ll never have another player like you and that’s part of the reason there’ll never be another season like last season. Best wishes lad.
But. Barca don’t want to make it easy do they? The damaged goods claims start appearing, the idea that City want Sanchez and so do Arsenal and United and every other bugger that might stop him being part of any deal and God help us they’re trying to push the price down. And there’s the apology. The apology that isn’t really an apology. The apology for Chiellini receiving the ‘physical result of a bite’ after a collision which is the single weirdest apology/non apology in history, supposedly prompted by Barca wanting a public apology before negotiating and fails to apologise to…….oh yeah, us.
But we don’t have to sell. Whatever the clause is, that’s what the clause is. Meet it or we don’t sell. John Henry’s not in business to treat Barca as ‘more than a club’. He’ll do what he does, not what you want him to.
So maybe we aren’t selling at all, maybe we aren’t spending the ‘Suarez money’, maybe we’re just spending money because we have money to spend and we have Champions League football and we have last season and we can point at what we do and say ‘want a part of that?’ and the bigger names are going, ‘Yeah, go’ed, I’ll have a bit of that’ and maybe next season we’ll still have Suarez and we’ll have added Markovic and Origi and Sanchez anyway and we’ll kick on and we’ll forget all this ever happened. Again. And it’ll never happen again. Until it does. And he’ll do it again and we’ll have to do this all again and oh god should we just sell and put an end to it all but look at him play football he’s bloody fantastic.
So my wife asked me how I felt and I told her. And I told her I’d thought of writing a piece here but that it would just be lots of words that said ‘I have no idea how I feel about Luis Suarez anymore.’
And then I did it.
Images: David Rawcliffe / Propaganda
Spot on article, Ian. Feel the same. Glad I dont have to make this decision. Just let the people at the top get on with it and hope it all ends up working out. At least so far club have dealt with it perfectly by saying and doing nothing publicly. Massively significant few weeks ahead…
It’s worth pointing out that in reality, Suarez denied biting Chiellini in his appeal because the Uruguayan FA were prompting him to, they were simply prepared to do anything, however embarrassing the possible outcome, to get their best player back for the competition…
Now the denial is just another stick to beat him with, along with the subsequent CLEAR and FULL apology, as all around him, post-incident, hysteria of unprecedented levels continues.
The hysteria is coupled with instances of the most outrageous hypocritical humbug from the “ex-pro” fraternity – several of whom chose to pontificate on the subject whilst having histories of similar or far worse (at least in my view) on-pitch behaviour … step forward Messrs Shearer and Savage for instance !
It is fascinating the way professional footballers can rationalise “attempting to end someone’s career” as being “part of football” … yet practically pass out in outrage when a player is given the equivalent of a hickey on the pitch …
The UK media love having a pantomime villain (although in Robbie Savage’s case they got a Dame) and Luis serves the purpose with the bonus that they can feed on the undercurrent of xenophobia (never directly referenced) regarding those ‘cheating foreigners’ …
The undercurrent of xenophobia bit. I think there’s more than a hint of truth to that.
I hear that.
However, it is fascinating how you and other fans are just as fond of rationalizing Suarez’ behavior. Come on man, check your own hysteria. Suarez cocked it up badly. Doesn’t matter who prompted him, what his motivation was, etc. Please peeps, take a step back.
Go do something fun, let Suarez do Suarez, albiet he does that badly, and our natural urge is to rescue him. That’s not what he needs. He needs to learn how to take accountability for his own actions. As boring and square as that. There’s been a lot of rationalization on both sides, and Suarez sowing chaos is not somehow a gift to football. Period.
Apologies. Article pretty much to the letter explains how I feel. Fantastic. I was responding to some of the posters, and thought it would link to their own comments :/
Rubbish. Suarez has brought it all upon himself. He has attacked people three times with his teeth. He should have been put away. Try that on the street and see how a judge views it. Evra’s incident is the only thing he’s been stitched up on.
Appropriately schizophrenic, I fully concur.
Luis plays the game like a kid. All the passion, all the joy. That’s why I love him so much. Unfortunately with kids they sometimes cross the line. I don’t want him out of a red shirt and I couldn’t care less what press hypocrites think.
Agree with nearly everything you have apart from the bit where he sensed the world cup slipping away hence he’s chomped on chielinni. At that point Uruguay were cruising not staring defeat in the face as you suggest. Personally I would sell now and your definitely right about henry, he wont have his pants pulled down by Barca and I believe we can thrive next season, with or without chewy Luis
Thanks for the memory’s and getting us into CL plus the huge wad of cash we will get, but please get out of our club NOW. We are not a “DOORMAT”
How the hell do we keep displine with the rest of players if we keep him? Will there be one rule for him and another for the rest?
Sick of defending him when without this latest incedent he would have left for Barca anyhow. If we would have resisted he would have down tools
Wise words and true feelings there Ian, felt by many of us……your article makes sense in that we are still in shock and disbelief about what he did (again). Good point from Billy about discipline with other players in the future.
”it’s the hardest question that I think you can ask a Liverpudlian at the moment”
I totally disagree. Here are some easy questions.
Does Luis Suarez score goals for Liverpool?
Does Luis Suarez win games for Liverpool?
Does Luis Suarez put 100% effort in to every Liverpool game he plays?
Do Liverpool have a better chance of winning the league with Luis Suarez in the team?
Now i get the whole 4 month ban, meaning he wont be playing for Liverpool until November. But come on, surely as a Liverpool fan winning football games is the most important things. Last season was easily the most enjoyable season to watch as a Liverpool fan. And Luis Suarez’s unpredictability was a major factor in that.
Also, these idiots who are diagnosing Suarez with mental health problems need leave the diagnosing to the professionals.
Great piece. Spot on for me that. It was a fudged apology wasn’t it? As if he can’t face up to the shame of what he did. And while I missed the Sports Psych opinion I thought those points had been ignored. Good to see they weren’t. And the possible side effects of a general anaesthetic on mood need a mention. In all Suarez at the World Cup was an accident waiting for someone to get in his way. You can’t cocoon him from the stresses that set him off. He has to see it’s his problem and submit to available help. But he probably won’t. So it’s time. Luis you are one amazing player…but, so long