Everybody knows that on his day Luis Suarez can be completely unplayable, be it in the red of Liverpool or the sky blue of the Uruguayan national team.
But, anyone who knows a little about his history as a player will tell you he has a darker side to his game as well. It is not so long ago that he bit an opponent in a Dutch League game in a scene that to many is still inexplicable.
In the past week or so I got the feeling that many Liverpool fans saw the first signs of the more twisted and vulgar side to that man who is typically a genius in and around the box. During the second half of Liverpool’s heavy defeat against a resurgent Spurs side Suarez was playing an isolated lone striker role and let all and sundry know that he was not happy with the team’s performance during the match. His mannerisms, body language and comments (for those of you who can lip read Spanish) were all very clear signs of his frustration. In fact, had referee Mike Jones paid more attention in his GCSE Spanish classes, he might have delivered Suarez with an instant second yellow, following a first for a combination of foul and abusive language and similar gestures.
Liverpool as a team never got going and I think Kenny Dalglish will have learned from a few key tactical mistakes in that match. Skrtel was left exposed and Charlie Adam will have to learn how to tackle very quickly or risk raking up a Hallmark-esque collection of cards this season. But was this performance the underlying reason for the attitude of the man they call ‘El pistolero’?
Last week The Guardian newspaper suggested that Real Madrid were interested in Suarez and maybe that was playing on his mind. It is no secret that Suarez, like many players, would like to play for the team from Madrid more than virtually any other club. In fact, back in 2009 when still at Ajax, a younger Suarez was linked with a move to Barcelona. The man himself dampened the flames of that rumour by declaring he would rather play for Real.
Thus far this season Liverpool have not really gotten going – they have had moments of great football in some of their games but looked abject at times in others. Suarez has affection for Liverpool and their fans already, that much is clear, but as a foreign player he will never have that sentiment to the level of the likes of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and some of the other members of the Anfield squad. I suggest that Kenny Dalglish, his staff and his squad of players are now not only under pressure to succeed from John W. Henry and company, but from the one man who can deliver goals for them.
There is no doubt that Suarez is the linchpin that Liverpool must base their success around and after this weekends win over Wolves it is easy to see why. Mick McCarthy summed up the difficulty of facing a player of Suarez’s talent: “He is something else. I said to Kenny that he never does what you expect him to do…You never know how to play him. He is just a bloody good player”. Steven Gerrard has been impressed with Suarez thus far and fellow new boy Jose Enrique described Suarez as “one of the best strikers in the world” as Kenny described him a ‘Kop legend’ already. Suarez actually made way for the return of Gerrard on Saturday and was visably furious when substituted, showing that the ugly side of Luis is never far away.
Suarez is a born winner who has become accustomed to success. Despite the actions of Suarez at the weekend; huffing and puffing, kicking water bottles, slouching in his seat like a sulking teenager, after being substituted against Wolves, he is happy at Liverpool but if Liverpool don’t improve their form quickly over the coming months and start to build a genuine challenge for the top four then the Suarez Time Bomb could explode in January. If that happens, then regardless of what the manager says, the business man in John W. Henry is sure to look to make a tidy profit on his Uruguayan import as Europe’s best teams maintain a firm interest in this talented talisman.
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