Following an oft troubled end of last season and close season, Luis Suárez has finally done what his manager Brendan Rodgers insist he had to do to be allowed return to first team training duties with Liverpool FC; that is, apologise to his team mates, the club and fans of the club.
Despite a fantastic 2012-’13 season at Anfield, an apology is of course the very least the Uruguayan international should have issued the club. All football fans will be aware that the 26 year-old bit Branislav Ivanović’s arm towards the end of last season, but Suárez behaviour after that has arguably been worse – and certainly more disrespectful – to Liverpool.
Suárez was banned for ten Premier League games for the Ivanović bite, but Liverpool, led by Rodgers, stood by the enigmatic front man. With the bite ban having come with four games of last season still to play, Suárez will now be banned for the first six games of the new Premier League season, but Rodgers and the club’s owner John W. Henry have at all times stood by a man who joined the club whilst also, incredibly serving a ban for biting a player in the Netherlands whilst playing for his previous club, Ajax of Amsterdam.
One feels for Rodgers’ predicament. On the one hand he desperately wants to keep the most influential current player at the club – a man whose goals and assists directly contributed to Liverpool attaining more than 20 Premier League points during the course of last season. On the other hand, Rodgers must want to strangle or shoot Suárez for the way he has undermined his authority and the contempt he’s shown the club who have stood by him so steadfastly throughout not only the biting controversy but also the Patrice Evra racism debacle from two seasons ago.
Instead of being grateful for his manager’s gesture at standing by him, Suárez repeatedly stated his desire to leave the club in favour of Champions League football throughout the close season. His will he/won’t he transfer saga was one of the most reported stories of the off season.
During pre season training, Suárez was banished to train with Liverpool’s reserves as the usually effervescent talisman seemed downcast and not his old self as the summer drew on at Melwood. This week, Rodgers insisted that for Suárez to return to first team training he would have to apologise to his team mates and to the club. The Northern Irishman also stated that Suárez will not be allowed to “sabotage” the Reds’ attempts to qualify for the Champions League, stating that the time has come to stop discussing the matter of Suárez and the potential transfer.
Suárez claimed throughout the summer that there was a “promise” made with the club that if they did not have Champions League football this season that he would be allowed to leave Anfield, with Arsenal being amongst the front runners in the chase for the coveted striker’s services.
It had been stated over recent weeks that there was disharmony within the Liverpool first team squad about the possible return of Suárez to the fold. Those reports have now been rubbished by sources within the club, including midfielder Jordan Henderson who this week stated:
“Of course we still want him (Suárez) to stay,” Henderson told Sky Sports News this week. “There will be no problems with the lads.
“We know he has been brilliant for us for the last few years and I’m sure if he stays he will carry on doing that and it will not affect his football one little bit.”
Henderson also stated that Suárez would be “crucial” to the clubs hopes of attaining Champions League football come the end of the season and that his overall game is “unbelievable.”
Suárez was one of six nominees for the 2012-’13 PFA Premier League Player of the Year and were it not for his terrible disciplinary record there can be little doubt that he would have been very close to being awarded that revered prize. The public disrespect he has shown to Liverpool over the close season is something which many fans of the club will find difficult to forget. Whether they have forgiven him or not will likely be known on 5th October when Suárez will almost certainly return to the Liverpool starting line-up following the ending of his suspension as The Reds host Crystal Palace at Anfield.