Sunday, 21 April 2013

Once bitten, twice not so shy – What should happen to Suarez

This is not the first time Luis Suarez has stuck his teeth in another player. Nor is it the first time he has got himself into hot water with the FA or his own club and as a Liverpool fan let me tell you, no matter who he plays for, it won’t be the last time
Many articles have been typed up and discussions had over Sunday’s biting incident. Firstly, Suarez actions were disgusting. No one can condone what he done. No matter how frustrated you get or riled up by an opposing player, biting is just unacceptable. So we all agree on that. What he did was wrong and yes he should be punished for it!
Now this is when the conversation becomes interesting, his punishment and how Liverpool should deal with the player.
Brendan Rodgers has come out and stated that the club will deal with it internally in an appropriate manner.  Ian Ayre has cancelled his trip to Australia to deal with the matter and I’m sure John Henry and Tom Werner will have a say in how they deal with Suarez and ensuring that the credibility of the club remains intact. But how should they deal with it? The media have suggested fining him and giving money to the Hillsborough charity in the wake of the anniversary. Graeme Souness and Henry winter have said that he should be sold as soon as possible and others have gone as far as saying his contract should be terminated
I agree that a lengthy ban and a hefty fine would be a just punishment. But selling him and sacking him…well that is just as mad as Suarez himself. And if you punish him who is to say he will not repeat again
Let’s go back to the infamous incident in 1995 at Selhurst Park when Eric Cantona launched himself at a fan in the crowd. The FA Chief Executive at the time, Graham Kelly, described his attack as "a stain on our game" that brought shame on football. He was handed an 8 month ban and United went on to lose the title to Blackburn Rovers. Cantona wanted to leave the club and even asked for his contract to be terminated. However, his manager, Alex Ferguson, persuaded him to stay on. In the next two years United won two league titles, an FA cup and Cantona was re-instated as captain of one of the most prestigious and historic clubs in the world. I doubt they have really looked back since and I’m pretty sure that the stain has been removed. In 2009 Ferguson said this about the incident nearly 14 years later “over the years since then I have never been able to elicit an explanation of the episode from Eric, but my own feeling is that anger at himself over the ordering-off and resentment of the referee's earlier inaction combined to take him over the brink." I don’t hear a mention of getting rid of him or “I thought about letting him go” do you?
So the question I ask is this, did United have to sell Cantona after “staining the Game”? Did they get rid of their leader, their charismatic talisman? Of course not! It would have been absurd of them to do such a thing. Cantona raised the bar at Manchester United. He made good players better. He showed young payers the talent that was needed to succeed. He made Manchester United an attractive team for other players to come join. And he scored goals when it mattered.
 “Sell Suarez now and get money for him and get someone else “I hear you cry. Liverpool paid 24 million for him 18 months ago and he has gone on to score 30 goals this season and is in contention for PFA player of the year. He is undoubtedly one of the top 5 players in world football today and could play for any team right now. His price had gone up to $50 million recently. But would Pep want this Latin American nut case on his team. Would the Special one? Not right now and certainly not for $50 million. Like a girlfriend with daddy issues….
Suarez recent antics, along with his other  well documented past misdemeanors, mean that no one would pay that money for him. So that in itself is hard for Liverpool after already wasting 35 million on Andy Carroll. Liverpool are not in the position to just let another striker go because who do they get in?? Cavani , Falcao or Benzema are all players who are possibly on the move this summer. But a move to Liverpool without Suarez would not be appealing to them.  Steven Gerard has taken a back seat to the Uruguayan this season and without meaning disrespect to the players who are currently at the club; Suarez is the only true world class player in the whole squad. And he will attract players of a similar stature. The rumour mill stated recently the Ajax’s Christian Eriksen had representatives at Anfield watching the Chelsea game. Suarez is a former team mate of the mercurial young Dane and I can guarantee that one of the main draws to Liverpool is to play with the brilliantly mad striker. Take him away and who do they attract??? Or more how do they attract this caliber of player? People say the club is big enough to attract these types of players in with its history. Rodgers calls it a “footballing institution”. That it is but it’s an institution that is falling further and further behind. Like a commodore 64 competing with a PlayStation 3.  I can admit that Liverpool have become a mid-table team. Struggling with bankruptcy, still awaiting a new stadium and now talk of getting rid of their best player. Surely this will set the club even further back.
Whatever punishment the FA and Liverpool hand down to Suarez or how much he is fined, there is one interesting alternative approach which could be taken by the club. This season Brendan Rodgers brought on board Dr Steve Peters.  Dr Peters is a sports psychologist who has helped the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton with Olympic triumphs and also helped sports bad boys such as Ronnie o Sullivan and Craig Bellamy change their ways mentally. He works with the club on a part time basis and it’s voluntary if the players use his services. To go further into this argument is to suggest, after so many incidents and similar to this previous one, Suarez may possibly have some mental issues. Something in his makeup that pushes him over the edge or see the famous “red mist”. Is this a solution to the biting and diving? Should he sit with the good doctor and talk it out? Who knows but if I was Brendan Rodgers, Ian Ayre or even Tom Werner, I would exhaust all my options before I even think of letting one of the world’s best players leave a club that needs him more than he needs them.  Recently in an article published by the Daily Mirror, John Henry, Liverpool’s owner, mentioned that he speaks to the Manchester United owners regularly and seeks advice on how to progress the club. Maybe a few lessons can be learned from the old enemy after all.