It’s time the Suárez boo-boys moved on
He’s not the messiah, or a martyr. He’s been a naughty boy. But it is time to move on. Accept Luis Suárez, warts and all, or accept that football is doomed to implode in tribal disarray. He deserves to fulfil himself at Liverpool, without the accompaniment of ritual abuse.
The signing of a new long-term contract with Liverpool yesterday was a huge statement of personal intent and a coup for the new manager, Brendan Rodgers. Juventus, a club of genuine stature, offered the prospect of a fresh start, away from the bitterness and recrimination.
Fears that Suárez would conclude he had no future at Liverpool, or in the English game as a whole, were widespread. His aggressive self-justification and antagonistic conduct on the pitch testifies to a certain immaturity. Rodgers set the correct tone by advising him to draw a line under his feud with Patrice Evra. Crafting conspiracy theories to support contentions of innocence is ultimately self-defeating.
Suárez is a world-class player, popular in the Anfield dressing room and capable of generating sufficient respect to captain both club and country. Yet he and the majority of Liverpool fans who retain faith in his character and will celebrate his demonstration of loyalty to the cause cannot escape the reality of the situation.
The booing to which the Uruguayan was subjected during the Olympics was a taste of things to come. It’s horrible and deeply depressing, but it is the modern way. Lynch mobs don’t follow logic. His persecutors will come up with slogans and borrowed soundbites without putting the debate about racism and football into its proper perspective. They’ll simply boo Suárez because he is there and because of what he has come to represent. There’s an assumption of guilt which they suppose gives them a licence to insult and intimidate. He is who they want him to be.
Relations between Liverpool and Manchester United, never pleasant, have been poisoned for a generation. It’s time to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. More bile will choke everyone involved. Suárez will remain a polarising figure, but I respect him for not taking the easy option of walking away. He deserves to be judged fairly, and consistently.
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