You didn’t think he’d let the season end without hitting the headlines again did you?
A campaign which featured him admitting diving in an attempt to win a penalty against Stoke and an FA Cup goal against Mansfield scored with the aid of his hand represented a pretty quiet one for Luis Suarez. There was always going to be more to come.
When it arrived though, it was as shocking to witness as anything that has gone on before in the Premier League.
His bite on Branislav Ivanovic in Sunday’s meeting between Liverpool and Chelsea was always going to provoke the kind of outrage which the Uruguayan seems to specialise in. The moment Suarez opened his mouth millions of fingers began tapping at millions of keyboards worldwide.
Regardless of that, it was a stupid, bizarre and downright unacceptable act.
Suarez was wrong, which he has since admitted. His club – a club who finally seem to have the people in place to deal with the fallout from one of their star forward’s brain freezes – have made all the right noises so far. Manager Brendan Rodgers and managing director Ian Ayre spoke quickly and correctly.
That isn’t enough to appease the masses though. Nothing short of Liverpool firing Suarez out of a cannon and into the River Mersey was going to do that.
There have been shrill, breathless calls to sack the forward from all quarters, but such a belief is backward.
Suarez is Liverpool’s key asset. His 30 goals this season – a season which is now surely over for him – have transformed what is still very much a team in transition into one capable of troubling the elite. Why would any club want to get rid of their best player? You can rest assured that each and every football club would make the same decision that Liverpool have. Yes, even yours.
The sense of tribalism, morality tales and finger pointing that exists in football means that your rival is always there to be judged. Referees can be pushed over, fans and ballboys can be kicked and players can be bitten but does that ever lead to sackings? No, it just leads to disapproving tut-tutting from supporters and a lingering sense that their club would do things differently. They wouldn’t.
Blame the current football climate if you want, but it has almost reached a stage that the only thing a modern club cannot afford to have is values.
Were Liverpool to sack or actively look to sell Suarez then what happens then? Well another club buys him obviously. He becomes someone else’s problem.
But when that problem is so crucial, so vital and so integral to each and every thing that you do, what then?
Liverpool had already put their neck on the line for Suarez once too often before the incident on Sunday, and so now he has to put his neck on the line for them.
He needs to prove that he can be just as effective a player without this devilment that infiltrates his character.
That may take time, but he’s likely to be offered that time and the help he needs by a club who simply can’t afford to see a £22.8m investment leave whilst they battle to rejoin the elite of the world game.
Liverpool knew about his character flaws – they signed him from Ajax whilst he was still serving a ban for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal in 2010 – and so it would be pretty hypocritical of the club to distance themselves from Suarez now.
You only need to have a limited knowledge of football to know that they were never going to do that anyway of course, he is far too important and far too influential for that.
He is not though, as Rodgers made clear, ‘bigger than the club.’
It is high time that Suarez started to think along those lines too.
Just thinking at all would be a good start.
To the die-hard Fantasy manager, the FA Cup is nothing but an inconvenience.
It is simply an unwanted chance for your players to get injured, to suddenly rediscover some flickering form or to play themselves out of contention for the next league game. What use were last weekend’s goals from Robin van Persie, Michu and Luis Suarez to anyone but Uruguayan Beach Volleyball Team selectors anyway?
Fear not though, for the Premier League returns this weekend, and it does so with a bang for the European champions (yes, believe it or not they still are).
Branislav Ivanovic (£7.1m) may have exhibited a worrying fondness for providing assists for the opposition during the midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Swansea, but if we’re going to stay strong and keep our disdain for the cup competitions alive then we are going to have to ignore that and instead look forward to him taking his place in a Chelsea defence which is about to embark on a Double Gameweek. Or will he?
The gradual return to fitness for John Terry (£6.5m) and the constant relocation of David Luiz (£6.6m) – sometimes inadvertently – means that the only member of Chelsea’s back four surely certain to line up against both Stoke and Southampton is Ashley Cole (£6.5m), who looks to be a fine investment for Fantasy bosses who may have activated their January wildcard ahead of this weekend, and who scored the winner and kept a clean sheet which Stoke visited Stamford Bridge in September.
Further forward, the signing of Demba Ba (£8.6m) has put the once secure place for Fernando Torres (£9.8m) under threat, whilst Rafael Benitez will surely avoid angering Fantasy bosses for a second Gameweek running and restore Juan Mata (£9.9m) to his Premier League line-up after resting him for the shock loss at home to QPR.
Harry Redknapp’s side entertain the manager’s former club Tottenham at Loftus Road in Saturday’s early match, with Gareth Bale (£9.8m) primed to score big on a weekend when many of his highly priced rivals are facing tougher fixtures. A wildcard move for the Welshman could have benefits well beyond this Gameweek.
Before the FA Cup so rudely interrupted us the name on everyone’s lips was that of Theo Walcott (£9.0m) but he and Arsenal face a tough test at home to Manchester City this weekend, with City likely to be missing the hamstrung Sergio Aguero (£11.0m) and Carlos Tevez (£8.9m) looking to start.
Suarez (£10.4m) won’t have many friends at Old Trafford and is unlikely to find many points either, with Robin van Persie (£14.0m) certain to lead the line for Manchester United against Liverpool. Those who back the Reds defence – which could include the cheap Andre Wisdom (£4.3m) after Jose Enrique (£5.9m) was ruled out for six weeks – to keep out the Dutchman aren’t short of options to replace him, with one of those options coming at Sunderland.
The Mackems have a relatively friendly set of four fixtures coming up, and so Fantasy bosses who had lost faith in Steven Fletcher (£7.0m) could be tempted to turn back to the Scotsman ahead of his side’s home match against West Ham, whilst the departure of Ba is sure to see Papiss Cisse (£8.8m) given a central striking role for Newcastle’s visit to Norwich if he can overcome a knock.
Another battling injury is Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez (£5.6m), but the Uruguyan is certainly worth keeping an eye on ahead of the Saints’ Double Gameweek trips to Aston Villa and Chelsea, whilst teenage full-back Luke Shaw (£4.0m) could find himself becoming an inexpensive addition to plenty of teams once that wildcard kicks in.
Whilst his price hasn’t yet risen, Marouane Fellaini’s (£7.4m) has been falling ever since his three-match ban, but with the Belgian back and ready to play a part in what look to be a winnable next four games for Everton, starting with this weekend against Swansea, then his addition could be crucial.