LONG-form moaning seems to be out of fashion right now. As the traditional football fanzine has slowly died off and morphed into websites and podcasts such as this, there seems to be less of it about these days.
Rewind 20 years, even 10, and there was far more of it about in the world of the football fan. Even in the good times, supporters would take the time to pen a good old grumble and groan about the bad and the ugly of the beautiful game. We’re not talking 140 characters of bile on Twitter here. I mean lovely well thought-out nark – stuff that made you grab a cuppa, sit down and at the very least smile at the snarkiness of it all.
So, amid all the sunny declarations of long-awaited Liverpool title success on the horizon, a return to the good-old days, and day-glo kits complete with cringe worthy statements about lions that everyone seems to think are sound, I’d like to bring the genre of long-form moaning back for a day. Just for old times’ sake.
It might all be a bit Peter Griffin ‘Do you know what really grinds my gears?” but it’s been brewing for a while, this. And as soon as a friendly between Liverpool and Barcelona was announced, I knew the tipping point was in the post.
My beef is this: Luis Suarez, and more specifically the continued declarations of love from Liverpool fans and the fawning from the club over a player who left on July 16, 2014.
When, I wonder, did Liverpool become the ex that won’t let go? The partner that shows mates pictures and says, ‘I used to see her you know?’.
When big stars in the past departed, did Liverpool — club and fans — behave this way? Did we drool over Kevin Keegan in a Hamburg kit? Marvel at Graeme Souness banging them in for Sampdoria? Fist-bump mates when Rushie slotted one for Juventus?
In my lifetime and before, the mantra always was, and still should be, that no-one is bigger than the club. When it comes to Suarez, the idea seems to be getting lost. Do you support a player, or a club?
Stating the obvious here, but Luis Suarez left Liverpool two years ago of his own accord after a long goodbye that included a time when he was kept on Merseyside against his will — the failed attempt to engineer to a move to Arsenal, the interviews on international duty, the constant fluttering of eyelashes at Spain from all in the Luis camp; some seem happy to brush all that under the carpet and think only of the warmth of his many great strikes in a red shirt.
He’s a Barcelona player now. His connection to Liverpool is that he used to play for Liverpool. And that’s it, really.
Yes, he was good. No, he was brilliant. Up there – ability wise – with the very best to have worn the red of Liverpool and with a built-in needle, an edge, that many who have come before and after so obviously lack.
Suarez played in 133 games and scored 82 goals for Liverpool. He won the League Cup in 2012. He scored unbelievable goals, displayed trickery most wouldn’t even attempt and he was the magic in a side that took us so close to the trophy we’d all love to see in the cabinet at Anfield.
We’ve all got our good memories of him.
But then he got off. Just like he wanted to. Liverpool were back in the Champions League but there was no second thoughts, no debate, no mixed emotions – it was goodbye Anfield, hello Nou Camp.
It’s also worth remembering that during his time at Liverpool, Suarez was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra by an FA panel – something he disputed – resulting in an eight-match ban. Later, he refused to shake the then Manchester United player’s hand at Old Trafford despite promising the club he would do so — an action that dragged Kenny Dalglish under the bus with him as the embarrassing sideshow continued.
He bit Branislav Ivanovic, too, copping for a 10-match ban. And for good measure, while still on the books here, he munched on Giorgio Chiellini in the World Cup, resulting in the infamous excuse: “I lost my balance and ended up falling on my opponent. At that moment, my face hit the player leaving a small bruise and sharp pain in the teeth.”
He was player of the year with Liverpool, too. And rightly so. He made us sing, shout and stand in awe at his ability with the ball. But there were always two sides to the Suarez story.
With the three years at Liverpool now distant past, the money banked and spent (not particularly well), and Suarez going on to play 90-odd games and scoring 82 goals for Barcelona, I’m left scratching my head as to quite why he is offered the reverence he receives from Liverpool and its fans in 2016.
This worshipping stretches from the club fawning over him on social media to fans posting his goals for a different football club and adding the hashtag ‘#LFC’. Sorry, what? What has goals for a team in Spain got to do with Liverpool FC? I’ll tell you: Absolutely nothing.
I appreciate Suarez was – and is – an amazing footballer, and we haven’t seen his like at Liverpool since. But have we sunk so low that we have to try to claim some bizarre reflected glory from his achievements for another football club?
Do we need to have him visiting Melwood like he’s some kind of God doing us a favour, “catching up with former team-mates” and admitting “Liverpool are so important to me.” Does that need to feature prominently on the club website (like it did in March)?
Do the club need to be putting out tweets like this about Suarez at the weekend?
What’s great about it? Suarez has gone. He got what he wanted – his move to sunny Spain, to a club winning trophies. He’s mates with Liverpool players – understandable. But we don’t need to be boosting his personal brand any more. He’s not ours.
I’d rather now the club focused on the players we have on the books, and on getting better players in. In a world obsessed by messages and PR, what does Liverpool’s pally act with Suarez say? We had a good player once. He left. But that’s OK. We still love him. He’s welcome anytime. We wish he’d come back because we don’t have better. It all feels a bit small time.
Forget Suarez. He’s not coming back to Merseyside for anything more than a PR jaunt anytime soon, so let’s whack the shutters up, get ruthless and say thanks but no thanks. Melwood is a place to train current Liverpool players to win games. If we play against his club, sound, let’s, like we did on Saturday, give them a good thrashing.
Suarez deserves a polite applause at best. An acknowledgment of the good times. Nice one, the good times were good. But you’re an ex. You’re in bed with Barcelona. It’s a nod and a raise of the eyebrows if we pass in the street at best, rather than hugs, selfies and social media updates about the belter we once bagged.
I don’t want Liverpool bowing at the altar of Suarez or Barca, I want Liverpool thinking big and acting big. We’ve got a proud record against Barcelona. Let’s talk about that. Let’s aim to get back up there and bettering it, adding to it – a third win at the Nou Camp sometime soon? Make us dream.
Suarez? Just can’t get enough? I’ve had enough.
Standing ovation as Luis Suarez is subbed off, which is then loudly followed by the 'Just Can't Get Enough' chant#LFC #FCB
— Melissa Reddy (@MelissaReddy_) August 6, 2016
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Liked Suarez in red. Hope Can puts him into row 10 if we meet competitively.
Well that’s the modern fan for you
Well said. I was glad we gave them and Suarez a sound thrashing last Saturday. I was glad that their little Spanish team came up against 89,000 red supporters at Anfield South. Just a little reminder.
Suarez was one of the best footballers in a red shirt I had ever seen. Did I like him as an individual – no. Not at all. He was as much a menace on the pitch as he was off it.
And I loved the club’s hard-ball stance when he started to flirt with Barca. It was obvious he was going to end up there – in the end however, I thought Barca got the best deal and we had to clear up the mess he’d left behind for 70 odd million.
Liverpool were just a stepping stone in the journey for Suarez. I like to think that on Saturday we reminded him we’re actually the destination.
You’re right, of course Gareth, but I think that 2 factors played their part on Saturday. 1, as you point out, we haven’t had anyone nearly good enough to replace the worship we gave him when he was a red so seeing him reminds people of the good times and 2, it was a friendly match, played in a party atmosphere (the only reason I’ll forgive the Mexican wave!) and we were battering Barca.
Had it been a competitive game I think the reaction to him would’ve been far more reserved. There were also lots of kids present who love Suarez, like my lad for example, and are too young than to simply react with joy at seeing the likes of him and Messi in the flesh.
The biggest problem is that we HAVE fallen that far, and a lot of people younger than me (36) have never seen us be what Barca are now. Until we get back to being the team that players like Suarez end up at, rather than being a stepping stone, this problem of cringey over-reaction to former players will continue unfortunately.
I’ll have to agree with Mkd. I am speaking from my perspective, from a 18 y.o. long distance supporter from Singapore. (: For me, I never saw the glory days of Liverpool, and had to rely on articles, pictures, Wikipedia etc. to know about the many titles and cups we won in our heyday. Heck, I was too young during our Champions League triumph in 2005 too. The only cup that we won when I actively supported Liverpool was our Carling Cup triumph under King Kenny. For me, the only great players I knew and watched were Torres, Gerrard, Carragher and Suarez, and the best season I have seen was our 13/14 run. From my point of view, it is tempting to attach ourselves to great, talented players like Suarez as we youth tend to see them as an epitome of what we can be, and the players we can draw in (please let me try to forget players like Konchesky). Of course Suarez has left, but he reminds me to some extent our glorious run-in in 13/14 and gives me hope for the future. Yes, no player is bigger than the club, but he is a symbol of our strength and might when we do awaken from our slumber (hopefully under JK this season!) Up the Reds!
Finally someone saying it how it should be. Fantastic player , yes. Club legend , no.
Couldn’t wait to leave . The club supported him through two long term bans (wasn’t there another short one for sticking fingers up at Fulham?) of course was integral to us nearly winning the league but we didn’t.
Could have given us a year in the Champ Lg , and we could have looked for a replacement. Selfish actions , adios.
Wasn’t convinced by him at first as he seemed to hit the post /bar or squander great chances game in game out but when he clicked I was made up the lad was in a red shirt and the fact he pissed every other clubs fans off big time was a bonus , then he got itchy feet and his agent was hawking him round the big clubs in Spain and Italy so the marriage was on the rocks after a couple of years , when he left I felt used in his pursuit of Barca so the hero worship does my head in tbh
Couldn’t agree more once he left that was the end for me….like has been said move on…next!
I suspect a piece written to spark debate?
It’s probably a combination of the fact I don’t think anyone begrudged Suarez his move, he played his arse off for us to earn that move and has always spoke so highly of us since. People appreciate a player who would run through walls for the club, it may have been just for that move but I think he’d do the same down the park!
At the end of the day we loved him and despite us only ever being a stepping stone, it seems mutual.
Begrudge his move.? The summer of 2013 would have seen a huge number of fans be happy if he’d gone to arsenal if they’d only had the balls to reach 45m or so after all the shit he put the club through.
And look at all the fun we would of missed out on…
Well I bloody well did.
He is revered as a truly great footballer, along with G as the last the club will likely ever see as we are mid table now.
I dream about beating Stoke away.
I think the clear difference here mate is in the past when players like Keegan or Rush left we were still a great side with great players, so it was easy to move on. Especially when the replacement for the former was King Kenny! Whereas when Suarez left we collapsed and were left watching Lambert and Balotelli. I can’t watch him for Barcelona because it just reminds me of a time when the best player in the world and the best player I’ve ever seen live played in Red and the unfulfilled potential (again in contrast to past greats who moved on) because he and we didn’t win the league.
Agreed in principle to what’s being said here but unfortunately right now we have to suck it up. Beggars can’t be chooses and a Club’s status in Europe football is determined by its standing in terms of recent achievements. Now we might be the best Club in the world in the eyes of our own fans, as was proven at Wembley on the weekend, however let’s have it straight LFC have won nothing since 2012 and nothing major since 2006 or 2005 if you’re like me and grade the League or European Cup as major trophies.
Until JK gets it right on the pitch, and imo that’s a given, then we have to be seen as playing the game in terms of being the humble club who’s happy to grow its base, again I make no apologies for referencing the record Wembley crowd on Saturday. Let’s stop cribbing about stuff, to me that shows a lack of class and understanding. Suarez may have been a right pain in the arse of the pitch and the Club did the right thing offloading him when he demonstrated his desire to leave. But the big question is would you have another Luiz Suarez and have the same situation happen all over again, the answer to that is too right we would. The proof is in the eating and natural selection in football and who is at the European Top Table will determine the status and therefore not so much the pulling power, as LFC will always attract hungry ambitious wannabes a la Suarez, the acid test is when will the day arrive when can we naturally retain such precocious talent. Nothing else matters, until then we have to play our part, enjoy supporting our Team and rejoice such fantastic experiences as having the likes of Suarez keep LFC in the conversation. The alternative is to not have this happen and it’s clear none of us would want that, so let’s applaud Suarez let’s play the game keeping the door wide open for the next great world talents of tomorrow, and let’s be seen to sweet admirers of the beautiful game and not bitter and twisted when we can’t retain world class talent due to a lack of success on the pitch. Stop bitching and enjoy the journey we all know the path to success is not a destination. My closing cliche is best t o have loved and lost…… As the saying goes
I think it’s a coping strategy Robbo. With Torres as an example we half knew he was a busted flush when we sold him – and although it’s turned around again now – we could enjoy his struggles at Chelsea knowing it was never gonna bite us on the arse.
Souness and Keegan? Went for the money to inferior clubs.
But Suarez? Left us for a brilliant team and improved again whilst we collapsed like a house of cards without him. We could’ve tried to hate him about it – a la Torres – but we knew he’d be a success and we’d just end up looking dafter and more bitter with each goal. So we go the opposite way. When he’s scores the winner in the CL final rather than cry over what was, we embrace “our Luis, one of us” overtly. Doing that shuts up the wind up merchants on twitter but more importantly,shuts up the dark side of ourselves that’s secretly gutted about it.
Following on from that did you notice everyone went from calling Torres for everything and him being the but of every joke for 6 years, to being “made up for the lad, getting to the CL final with his boyhood club, hope it wins it. Always a red. Ynwa”.
Fuck him and the thousands of gimps who constantly fawn over a player who didn’t want to play for us anymore.Tgat nonsense at Wembley was as embarrassing as Iexpected.
Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with fans showing a fondness for certain ex-players who showed love for the team and the city during their time here.
I imagine if Reina, Kuyt, Agger, ect came back to Liverpool for a game they’d also get a big cheer, maybe a song and hundreds instagram posts.
And I see nothing wrong in that.
We’re not a Chelsea fans who see our players as £30m legs for hire – as soon as they’re out the door, it’s onto the next one. I feel a big connection with the players that really buy into us as a club, and – disregarding those who leave on a sour note (ahem, Torres) – that appreciation doesn’t completely disappear on their departure. There’s always a fondness.
Unless they do an Owen.
Maybe it goes a bit far with Suarez but that 13/14 season is fresh in the minds. And he is f*cking good. Although, in your argument, I’m surprised you didn’t mention how he is clearly trying to whisper sweet nothings into Coutinho’s ear about leaving for Barcelona whenever he visits. Stay away Luis!
Its not about if he was an Ex or used to play for us… Its about acknowledging his talent and being proud of the fact that we played a made a major role in him being who he is today… Its about appreciating his genius and applauding it… This why Liverpool supporters have such a class about them… We are a knowledgeable group of supporters and we recognise and appreciate talent… Sure he left us for Barca and was a menace off the field for us but we supported him through it all when he was our own…
Forget all the PR stunts and the commercial aspects. Most of the supporters see right through it… He hurt us all when he left but we were rewarded with 70 Million and some of the best performances in a LFC shirt by a player… He is never coming back so lets just appreciate and move on!!! : )
It’s all about opinions you have yours and everyone else theres….we have Allways done the same for are top ex players Kenny rush fowler I’ve seen them all from the 60s till now and he is the best I’ve ever seen in a red shirt bar none …. Loved Kenny souness Keegan hunt St. John Thompson Torres gerrard. Lots have not moved on from SG. It’s there choice. To remember. The players they think are special. After all when you leave your home town you do not forget it do you? The choice is a individual one and that is how it should be Suarez. Gave me memories I’ve not seen since he has left from any player now or before so IMO. I will Allways think of as a red