Luis Suarez – an outstanding footballer (a pest of the highest order in my opinion) and currently only behind Robin Van Persie in the Premier League scoring charts after yet another goal at the weekend. A marmite player, who lets be fair, if he played for your team – you’d love, if he didn’t he is not an individual you’d like. A man who Sir Alex Ferguson said recently was “laden with controversy” and who has now admitted in an interview that he dived in a match as he wanted his side to win. This is just one high profile incident that has occurred which has seen the Uruguayan at the centre of attention. His time in english football has not been boring that is for sure.
Suarez has been plying his trade in Europe since 2006 when he moved from his native Uruguay to the Dutch team Groningen; from there he moved onto to Ajax and basically became a goal machine with a record well above 1 in 2. After 4 years of terrorising Dutch defences, Liverpool faced with the task of replacing Fernando Torres, paid Ajax 22.8 million for his services in January 2011 – at the time seen as a nice coup for the reds of Liverpool. This has probably turned out to be the case, but not without a few bumps and bruises along the way – and that’s an understatement.
Now even before he arrived on English shores, Suarez was already tainted by controversy. His deliberate handball against Ghana in the 2010 World Cup Quarter Final was when he really came into our minds and then just a few months later he was involved in a biting storm during a match against PSV – a 7 match ban followed. His first few months in England were pretty quiet, especially as they had also bought Andy Carroll for 35m and the focus was on him to replicate the goals that the red side of Merseyside had lost with the departure of El Nino. However in the 2011-12 season, Suarez was to gain notoriety for a number of things.
He had already built up a bit of a reputation as a diver, but he was by no means the only person with that tag, opposition managers would try to use this against him, but Suarez would just carry on doing what he does best – pestering the heck out of defenders, causing havoc and scoring goals. Unfortunately for me he did just this against my team with a virtuoso performance at Anfield in March 2011; however the next match against the same opponents was the catalyst for an incident that would unfortunately for him thrust him into the spotlight for reasons no one would want.
Anfield – October 2011, Liverpool play out a 1-1 draw with their rivals from down the East Lancs road, but news filters out after the game that Suarez had racially abused Patrice Evra after a complaint from the Manchester United defender – after an investigation, where Suarez protests his innocence an 8 match ban is handed out as well as a £40000 fine – Suarez though not happy with the verdict accepts the punishment. However his suspension ends just before the return match at Old Trafford, issues arise in regards to the pre match handshake between the two players. Suarez refuses, despite having told his manager and the Liverpool hierachy that he would shake Patrice Evra’s hand. All hell breaks loose, Kenny Dalglish loses it in his post match interview, Sir Alex has his say – essentially a very unsavoury way to end a vitriolic game which he scored a late consolation goal, but not enough to avoid defeat. The funny thing is – Luis Suarez was now public enemy number 1 in the red part of Manchester, but he did not really care, because for him it was about the football and winning for his team. An apology for his actions did follow the next day – though he has since spoken about the injustice felt – especially in regards to the fact that he felt foreign players received harsher punishments than ‘home’ players – something I have to say I agree with in certain instances.
You’d think after that ordeal he’d keep his head down but not this man, as well as continuing to score goals for Liverpool, he has hit the headlines in other ways – such as with the aforementioned diving, allegations of violent conduct in various games, a blatant handball in a match versus Southampton in December (spotted by referee – and he was was booked and missed the next match – incidentally Liverpool won) and a further handball which led to Liverpool taking a 0-2 lead in a recent FA Cup match which somehow the officials did not spot and the goal stood and was essentially the winner in a 1-2 victory. And despite all these issues, the man plays to win – no matter what – criticism seems to just bounce off him.
Now to the title of the blog – I think we can all agree that Luis Suarez is one hell of a footballer, no argument from me and that controversy does seem to follow him around very closely. Is he a cheat??????? – well some would argue he definitely is, but is he any different to some other footballers – in my opinion he does what he needs to do to win – now sometimes this may involve illegal acts on the football pitch but as said he is not the only one to do it, though I stress this does not make it right.
Now cheat is a very strong word and Ill leave it up to you to let me know what you think and what resons you may or may not have dependent on your point of view. Furthermore will all the controversy and seemingly constant sniping towards Suarez drive him away from the english game. Your thoughts are more than welcome.