Luis Suárez: The Offensive Entertainer
By Hassanin Mubarak
He’s done it again, Liverpool’s Luis Suárez doesn’t half put his foot in at times or to put it appropriately his shinny great big gnashers. Just when you thought he turned a new leaf , he goes and takes bite out of a defender. Who would have expected it? Ok, enough with the sarcasm, with Suárez, you expect everything and anything. It comes with the territory.. Let’s not forget, the same player is also facing disciplinary proceedings from FIFA for punching a Chilean opponent in a World Cup qualifier last month. He's no angel so why the outrage.
The brief moment of insanity had been scrutinised analysed and belligerently critiqued by millions of onlookers over the world, by the time the Uruguayan striker had netted the 97th minute goal, that put his side back on level terms against Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea.
It was to have been Rafa’s day, his homecoming to Anfield, but Suárez, always the centre of attention, the man of the moment, scored one goal, assisted for another, gave away a penalty and then in between the goal-mouth action, for some reason or other, maybe feeling a bit peckish after giving the Chelsea rearguard the run-around for 78 minutes, decided to take a break and feast on an arm of a Chelsea defender, Branislav Ivanović, maybe to have a nibble at the Serbian delicacy.
Only a week before the incident, his manager had praised his ‘appetite’ for the game. Suárez may have yet to fully grasp the English language, but I don’t believe for a minute that Rogers thought the striker would take his words literally.
They say lightening doesn’t strike twice, but it does and it did, and Otman Bakkal and now Ivanović have the bite marks to prove it. We have been here before, on November 20, 2010, Suárez thought it would be a good idea to playfully bite his PSV opponent on the shoulder. He was suspended by his club for two games and then fined, but the KNVB thought that was not sufficient for the offence and increased his suspension to seven league matches.
It would be his last game for Ajax. The club had never wanted to sell him, but the tainted prodigy had become a liability with his spell in Holland littered with suspensions and other on and off field problems.
The escape came by a generous €26.5 million (£22.8 million) offer from Liverpool, the famous Amsterdam club renowned for selling their most prized to the highest bidder, were happy to oblige and released the Tasmanian devil into the wild and the green playing fields of the Premier League.
The striker should come with a disclaimer, warning viewers that ‘Explicit Content’ is expected when viewing the Uruguayan in action.
El Pistolero (“The Pistol”) who derives from the agricultural city of Salto in north western Uruguay, has previous, at the age of 15, he was red-carded for head-butting a referee, and was caught by his youth coach out on a late night out drinking, and has a string of diving and handball offences and then there was the racist slur he made when attempting to belittle Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
Why does he do these things? No-one can answer that but the man himself. But if he didn’t, he certainly wouldn’t be the same player.
That worn-out and often over-used and overcooked clicheé, the flawed genius, springs to mind when the subject comes to highly gifted footballers that always live their lives on the edge, players such as George Best, Éric Cantona, Edmundo, Paolo Di Canio and Joey Barton (ok, maybe not).
In his day, Cantona was the King, head and shoulders above anyone in the Premier League when it came to controversy, a footballer with the love for a touch of a little petulance and often liked a good stamp to boot, his unique Gallic style, turning up his collar, his alluring bravado, and doing things on the pitch that others could only dream of, made him seem as if he was unparallelled to any other player on the field.
Cantona was a modern day gladiator, entertaining hoards of spectators in the Coliseums of our era and what’s more he was a natural leader and winner, winning league and cup titles, galvanising his team-mates and the millions of adoring fans who looked up to him.
His conviction for the assault on a spectator at Selhurst Park in 1995 should have ended his playing days in English football, any other player would never have kicked a ball in this country, but this was Cantona, one of the game’s great entertainers.
Aside from the seagulls and the trawlers, Sir Alex Ferguson knew the Frenchman was irreplaceable, and also that without that 'je ne sais quoi', that special something, that cannot be defined or ultimately measured, he would never be the same-kind of player, much like Liverpool’s current number No.7. The Old Trafford manager stood by Cantona and the enigmatic Frenchman repaid him with a further league title.
As Joey Barton, that Scouse rapscallion and Twitter philosopher and thinker of the modern social networking age, with the immaculately attained French accent from BBC’s 'Allo 'Allo DVD box-set, who could be pigeonholed in the same bracket, put it, “Suárez is a good as a player as there is in world football at the minute. Yes, he's messed up and shouldn't have bitten another player but a player like him has to play right on the edge. Without it, he wouldn't be the talent he is. LFC would be mad not to back him.”
Back him they will, to the hilt. Liverpool FC need him, and so do throngs of journalists, the newspapers that employ them and sell a shedload of papers on the back of his unsavoury antics or breathtaking goal-scoring exploits and the everyday football fan, that adore or detest him, who shell out thousands of their hard-earned cash to watch him or others like him play, either to cheer them on or berate them.
Suárez is an actor on a football stage that is viewed by millions that want to be entertained, whether he is seen as the hero or the villain, the spectator will keenly continue to watch whatever he does next. Players like him, undoubtedly divide opinion and watching him can be car-crash viewing at times but people, however outraged, will not be turning away in droves.
However stating this, his actions cannot be excused, and his club and the FA will throw the book at him, and this is probably the last we will see of him, for this season at least.
Suárez is not the kind of individual to bow down to public opinion and retreat with his tail between his legs and leave these shores, he will leave on his own terms (or when Liverpool’s owners decide its time to cash-in on their prized asset).
Will he stay at Liverpool? Only time will tell, but I am sure there will be an abundant of rich suitors from Europe’s elite clubs bidding for this flawed hired gun, if he decides to leave.
One things for sure, is that Luis Suárez will be biting at the heels of opposing defenders, playing at Liverpool or any club, and you will be watching. Just expect to be offended and outraged.