Luis Suarez return disaster for Liverpool
He was the most talked about man in the footballing summer. Luis Suarez, the star Liverpool player previously found guilty of racism and the man who was serving a lengthy ban for biting an opponent. His club showed questionable judgement and backed their player… who then shockingly turned around and revealed he wanted to leave for a bigger club. The summer transfer saga dominated the headlines, Suarez first courting Real Madrid and then rival English club Arsenal.
Liverpool ended up keeping hold of Suarez, adamant they would hold him to his contract. Suarez wasn’t happy, he felt he was good enough for champions league level football and knew he was unlikely ever to get this at Liverpool. Never the less, as the reality of his contract kept him at the club, Suarez was suddenly saying he wanted to stay at Liverpool. The fans embraced him once again, despite the racism, despite the diving incidents, despite the biting attack, despite him saying they weren’t a big club; the fans seemed still to hold the Uruguayan in high regard.
Which brings us to his much heralded return to the pitch this last Tuesday night. His biting ban now served, Suarez was to return against English Champions Manchester United. This made the return even more monumental, United are Liverpool’s local and most hated rival, and without Suarez Liverpool had in fact recently beat United 1 nil. That win had summed up Liverpool’s season, a good start in which the team looked together; and free from the shadow of Suarez the club had Daniel Sturridge scoring a goal a game. Would Suarez’s return disrupt the team? Would Suarez return to defy his critics? Could he be the hero who beats United? The stage was set.
The match itself was a League Cup match, so a knock out game. It was played at United’s Old Trafford, and as is tradition in this Cup United named a team made up of it’s second string players; resting key men such as Nemanja Vidic and Marouane Fellani. In fairness, Wayne Rooney was the exception, he started, but this really was a second string United side. Liverpool in contrast named their strongest possible 11, all their top players and the returning Suarez lining up with Daniel Sturridge. Perhaps this was Brendan Rodger’s mistake of the night, he had put a ton of pressure on Suarez, throwing him right in with the weight of expectations. It also put pressure on the team, having named his strongest line up it would be humiliating if their best went out against Manchester United’s second best and got beat.
But that is exactly what happened, and the loss has rocked Liverpool’s good start to the season. They are now Three games without a win and having beat United’s best team earlier this season they now can’t beat United’s second string. United dominated on the night, winning 1 nil with a superbly taken goal by Chicarito. The Mexican superstar turned athletically in mid air to kick the ball into the back of the net and United saw the game out with a smart passing and defending discipline.
Suarez’s return resulted in a loss. He couldn’t cope against the defensive quality of Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling, United’s stand ins for Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Suarez has to ask himself, he wants Champions League football but if he can’t even make an impression on League Cup football should he really be crying so much? Liverpool had spells of creativity and Suarez got some shots away, but United rarely looked flustered as they maintained control of the tie. Liverpool were knocked out of the cup by a team which United manager David Moyes had named to give his fringe players a run out. Liverpool have some serious soul searching to do after this.
The immediate question is, has the return of Luis Suarez hurt Liverpool rather than helped the club. Liverpool seemed to have found a good team play and looked comfortable without him, Daniel Sturridge emerging as a goal getter. Can Sturridge and Suarez play together is what the fans will now be asking, and the team looked nowhere near as fluid as they did when Suarez was out of the team. The question has to be asked is there some resentment from Sturridge to Suarez, it must be fairly uncomfortable for Sturridge knowing what Suarez has said in racial remarks to other players. Whatever the reasons, be it team style or personality clash, the return of Luis Suarez appears to have knocked Liverpool off course.
The Meryseyside club must be happy at least that there next game is against Sunderland, a team who has just sacked their manager and sit bottom of the English Premier League. Surely Liverpool will win that one convincingly with Suarez getting at least a couple of goals. But how long until the most controversial player in the world messes up as a liability once again? All eyes are on Luis Suarez.
G.J Herbert is a British features writer who has worked in content writing for business and been published in regional titles and nationally in The Sun newspaper. For his sports coverage follow him at https://twitter.com/gjhsports