The Anfield club will come under the microscope yet again following the actions of their superstar striker and the way they deal with the fallout will come under forensic scrutiny
By Julian Bennetts
What does rock bottom actually feel like?
The likes of Tony Adams and Paul Gascoigne will know, yet the demons they fought and encountered were simply reflective of the fallibility of human nature. They garnered support from all right-minded people.
Luis Suarez, the Premier League’s modern day poster boy for infamy, will receive no such sympathy on Monday morning, however.
There are few things that unite football, but biting – which is akin perhaps only to spitting in football’s invisible pantheon of the unacceptable – does just such a job.
The Uruguayan must surely receive a similar ban to the seven-game one he incurred for a copycat offence on PSV’s Otman Bakkal, after he attempted to take a chunk out of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm.
The book will come crashing down, and Suarez must accept his punishment, but what next for Liverpool? Their reputation is set to be dragged through the mud again as a consequence of their superstar striker’s actions.
After their clumsy mishandling of the racism storm of 2011-12, the way in which they deal with the fallout from the Uruguayan’s latest transgression will fall under forensic scrutiny.
The fact that Suarez himself, manager Brendan Rodgers and Ian Ayre, the managing director, have all issued swift apologies for the Uruguayan’s actions demonstrates that lessons have been learned.
Kenny Dalglish’s decision to wear a t-shirt bearing Suarez’s image painted perhaps the most depressing picture of what the Premier League has become over the past few years.
Many thousands of words have been used in the fight against racism, but that one image was simply disastrous for English football – no matter what Liverpool thought.
The club made the decision to stick by Suarez after his eight-match ban, though, as they had every right to do.
Yet you have to ask whether the chunk he attempted to take out of Ivanovic’s arm will signal the end of Suarez’s time in England. In the slightly twisted logic of the modern-day Premier League, perhaps racism will be acceptable but biting will not.
Perhaps, when all is said and done, we have to realise that the Premier League is no place to look for a tale of morality or ethics, in the same way that neither La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga would be.
When the stakes are so high, when staying in the top division or reaching the Champions League means so much, can we be surprised that what we consider acceptable is trampled underfoot?
And all this talk of Liverpool and what the club means – should we consider that? Few club are as proud of their history, after all.
From the eras of Shankly and Paisley through to the present day, Liverpool Football Club has always seemed to stand for something.
The shadow of Hillsborough has loomed large over the past few weeks, and last week’s death of Anne s – who spent 24 years campaigning for justice for her son, Kevin – brought it ever more into focus.
But please, no link between the past and the present here. Liverpool are now victims of circumstance in that talented players are indulged and allowed to get away with more than ever before.
Lines need to be drawn in the sand, but there seems to be no-one brave enough to do so. If Liverpool took the ultimate sanction and sacked Suarez, there would be no shortage of takers for the 26-year-old.
Why should they be the standard-bearers here? Their walk to the moral high ground would not necessarily be followed by others.
If Liverpool and Chelsea accepted Suarez and John Terry back into the fold after the accusations of racism levelled against them, why would an allegation of biting become the straw that broke the camel’s back?
Call it pessimism, call it realism, but it is a personal view that until there is a club or an individual willing to make a break with their financial and sporting imperatives, then that bridge will never be crossed. If Liverpool decide to sell Suarez they will receive €47 million from any potential buyer – and they certainly won’t care about his altercation with Ivanovic.
Liverpool have taken a stance, the only correct one available, by apologising for Suarez’s actions, but do you really expect any further action to be taken by the club? Do you think they would put their best player on the transfer list?
Maybe for the sake of football they should. But they would be trend-setters if they did so, and that is almost the last thing that should be expected in top-level football these days.
So, Luis, issue another apology after the ban is formally announced. Say you won’t do it again. But if you do, remember there is always another club willing to reward a player as richly talented as yourself – and who knows, maybe they’ll give you a full dental plan.