Friday, April 26, 2013

Luis Suarez and Liverpool Have No-one to Blame But Themselves

It's hard to imagine what Luis Suarez was thinking when he bit the arm of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic. Despite his past history and his well-known wild temperament, more than a couple of replays were required to make the eyes believe what they clearly saw. The Football Association's punishment was swift and forceful hitting the striker with a 10-game ban for violent conduct. For Liverpool and Suarez, they really don't have anyone to blame but themselves.

This isn't the first time that Liverpool and Luis Suarez have come under the microscope for Suarez's inappropriate and frankly offensive actions on the field but unrelated to football. In the 2011-12 season then manager Kenny Dalglish vehemently defended his prize striker over claims of Suarez racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. Suarez was eventually found guilty hit with a hefty fine and eight match ban. Dalglish and the club looked bad.

It looked like lessons had been learned from that incident in the wake of Sunday's action. Suarez swiftly apologised and the club appeared to be taking a firm stance on the issue. Both appeared ready to accept the charge of violent conduct from the FA (and automatic three match ban that comes with it). However, the moment an investigation panel recommended upping the suspension to 10 games; Suarez appealed and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers jumped to the defence of the 26-year old, even criticising the panel.

The reality is that this is a story of two tragedies. The tragedy of a football club with a tremendous a history that has utterly failed to show the necessary level of respect for the game. Even after a period where success has been harder to come by, Liverpool remains one of the nation's top football clubs. A club with a history of being tough and playing football 'the right way'. Perhaps standards have been lowered in terms of what is and what is not tolerated from representatives playing at Anfield in the wake of a period where success has been harder to come by. It is sad to see the day where a fantastic football club continues to defend actions that are completely unacceptable to the game.

The second tragedy is of a man who has been gifted with some of the most remarkable talent in the game today. Suarez has scored 30 goals for Liverpool in the 12/13 season, 22 in the Premier League, and has arguably been the top player in the EPL all season long. Why is Luis Suarez unable to just let his football do the talking? How is it possible that he has now been involved in two high profile biting incident in his career?

This wasn't just any bite either. This was a somewhat calculated, aggressive and violent 'attack' against an opponent. 

The FA have not been consistent with their bans over the last couple of years. The investigation was not conducted perfectly and there's little doubt that Suarez and this case have been an example of, but there can be no finger pointing from anyone at Anfield.

How is it that a club like Liverpool has tolerated such out of control behaviour from its top player for more than a year? The abuse saga with Evra, the failure to shake his hand, various other border-line incidents and now this. These are unacceptable standards for a club with as much history and pride as Liverpool.

Suarez can suggest that a 10-match ban was too much as much as he wants. The media and FA may have painted him as a 'demon', but he has made it extremely easy for him. Equally, how can he possible defend his actions? Biting opponents in football is completely unacceptable. Doing so two times in three years is even more worrying. This is a young man that clearly needs to learn some serious lessons. It is disappointing that a seven-game ban in 2010 was not enough.

Luis Suarez, Rodgers and Liverpool can act dismayed as much as they want, but a 10-match ban is clearly an appropriate punishment for an indefensible offence. They've really only got themselves to blame.

Article written by Sebastian Egerton-Read - follow Seb on twitter @SebEread

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