Suarez Issue Overshadows the Champions
Less than 48 hours after Manchester United claimed their 20th league title and it remains impossible to remove the images of Sunday’s shocking Luis Suarez biting incident from my mind. I should be in revelry, as yet another Premier League trophy was held high in front of the Old Trafford faithful. I should be looking forward to the prospect of seeing the Champions close out the season in style.
Sadly, the inexplicable chomping of Liverpool’s number nine still flashes across my eyes and leads me to wonder whether such a player would be welcome in the Old Trafford dressing room. Some may point to the antics of Eric Cantona at Selhurst Park as instant proof of the fact that he would. However, in the case of Luis ‘The Cannibal’ Suarez, the problem doesn’t lie as much in the malice of the attack, but the embarrassment and bizarreness of the action itself.
Suarez: The Ban Debate
In the last couple of days, opinions have ranged between the need for a lengthy ban to no more than a slap on the wrists with the promise of Anger Management classes to follow. Sadly, neither of these solutions do much to bring attention back onto the football pitch, when it comes to Liverpool FC and their overtly infamous striker.
It would be hypocritical and sensationalist to suggest that the player can no longer be welcomed at the club. Put into context, the bite itself is no more vicious than a dozen tackles we can guarantee seeing each and every season. In cases such as these, where player’s careers could genuinely be brought to an end, lengthy punishment seems more deserving, but far less likely to arrive. Gus Poyet was keen to point out such contradictions in English culture. But, regardless of common sense, it is difficult to remove your mind from the fact that biting another human being is simply an irrational and bizarre thing to do.
Of course, the potential for contradiction and sensationalism won’t stop the FA from wielding their mighty ban hammer and ensuring that the Uruguay international won’t play again this season. The FA have long held a policy of overreaction being the best reaction. A philosophy which rests on the laurels that they are more likely to be blamed for doing too little, than they are for doing too much.
But, as we continue to see intolerance shown towards the likes of John Terry and the Ferdinand brothers, it is more than a fair assertion that this philosophy doesn’t work. If you will excuse the pun, the FA and English football fans alike are in desperate need of finding the perfect biting point when it comes to our reactions and responses to player behaviour both on and off the pitch.
Recent discussions regarding the value of the FA’s retrospective punishment system has shown that there is a clear need for common sense when it comes to punishing a player for his on pitch antics. An outlandish punishment on this occasion will do little to assist future cases. Either way, the likeliest to suffer is Brendan Rogers and the rest of Liverpool FC.
Suarez: The new Cantona
As Suarez sunk his teeth into Ivanovic’ arm, he set in motion months of repeat questioning that will overshadow anything his team mates can achieve on the pitch. What really matters now, is the manner in which the football club are able to move on and ensure that they push forward as a team worthy of keeping such a player. When Cantona flew into the stands at Selhurst Park, he began a process of Manchester United laying the ground for his return on the pitch and it came as no surprise to see him return in heroic fashion to strike the winner against Liverpool just 8 months later.
Cantona was worth the hassle. He won games and brought trophies. Suarez is arguably at the same level and is certainly worth the hassle. Were Liverpool to manage the situation appropriately, Suarez is capable of returning with a renewed vigour likely to launch Liverpool into the higher echelons of the Premier League.
The questioning won’t stop, the debate won’t stop and the back page controversy will not stop when it comes to Luis Suarez. If Liverpool want to keep a player capable of being considered amongst the world’s best, it is up to them to decide that he is worth the effort and to prove to Suarez that they are worth the effort in return.
Have an opinion? Get your teeth sunk into the issue and let us know your thoughts.