The Return of El Pistolero: Luis Suarez
The ten match ban which has dragged on since last season is finally over. Our star striker, El Pistolero, will be back available for selection this week for our critical clash with Manchester United in the fourth round of the League Cup. After the dismal results in the league for the past two games, hopefully Suarez will be very welcome back at his club. Will the fans support him as vociferously as they have done since he signed from Ajax in January 2011? I for one found the summer particularly frustrating. I love Suarez and especially the goals he scores for us. He is the club’s star player and was unlucky not to have outshined Gareth Bale in all the major player awards last season. Big players do attract interest from other top clubs and Suarez is no different. I can remember how distraught I was when the Gerrard deal to Chelsea was almost done and dusted. This summer brought back those terrible memories. OK, Steven Gerrard finally had a flash of common sense and decided to stay at his boyhood club and the supporters rallied even further behind our iconic club captain. But, will the case be the same for Luis Suarez?
At first, I dismissed the early summer transfer talk as pure speculation, but then it slowly started to emerge that the rumours were rooted in truth. Suarez used the press he claimed he hated so much to try to engineer his dream move to Real Madrid. Here we have a player claiming how he wants to leave England because of the press hounding he gets and then in almost the same breath, he uses the very same press to express his discontent at Liverpool. OK, he had a point on several issues. We didn’t qualify for the Champions League yet again, not even the mediocrity of the Europa League can indeed be promised this season. Our league finish was very poor and we finished a country mile away from our targets. A trophyless season leaves both players and fans disappointed. But, stick with the program, Luis. You are our talisman, our lead goalscorer. At Anfield you have the total support of the best fans in the world. Can the likes of Arsenal offer the vibrant crowd action that the Kop generates? Not even Madrid have the dedicated support of Liverpool. As the summer wore on, the player I initially supported became a burden to me. He hardly left the trending Tweets section of Twitter. Every day a new story broke. Would his agent, the brother of new Bayern Munich boss, Pep Guardiola, favour a nepotic deal to the new European Champions? Would the giants at the Bernabeu flash their cash? What about Chelsea? And then there was the Arsenal saga… The irony of a move to another English club, having stated how uncomfortable his family are with british press intrusion was not lost on the fans. Suarez, as talented as he may be, is not the most sensible of characters. Politically he is very inastute. He seems driven by emotion and off the pitch he must be a nightmare to handle, perhaps more so than when he’s fleecing defenders on it. The Latin American flair raises up and he seems to speak without thinking. There was talk of promises from Brendan Rodgers and he obviously misunderstood the exact conditions of his contract. I didn’t like the way details were being leaked out to Arsene Wenger, telling him exactly how much he needed to bid so that the Gunner skinflints could get an absolute bargain. In the end I gave up hope in keeping Suarez, like the majority of supporters. I got fed up. We had a few decent possible targets in the sights and the transfer window was still wide open. We could take the cash and splash it out on maybe 2 or 3 quality replacements, one of which would surely come good. As the window dragged on and on, the dire situation slowly began to reverse. John Henry and Brendan Rodgers made strong statements that clarified that Luis Suarez was going nowhere. He would be a Liverpool player for the foreseeable future. Ultimately Real Madrid broke the world transfer record in signing Bale and there was no further room at the Bernabeu, for this year at least. Arsenal were laughed off as their approach totally warranted. And preseaon came and with Suarez back in training,, he manged to fit in a few preseason games and the global supporters turned out in their droves to pay homage.
When the window finally closed for the summer, I breathed a sigh of relief. We could keep Liverpool Lu for at least one more season. Perhaps if we don’t qualify for the CL again this year, he will get his wishes and be shipped out. But with the amazing start we’ve had (at least for the first four games), the top four looks a very realistic target. Suarez will return to a confident side and will line up next to an absolutely firing strike partner in Daniel Sturridge. Indeed healthy competition between the two could produce one of the greatest strike partnerships at Liverpool since our heydays in the Eighties. I couldn’t pick at present who the club’s top goalscorer will be this season. Sturridge has settled well and is on top form. he doesn’t carry the same pricetag as Luis, nor indeed all the emotional baggage.
I think he will emerge from the stalls like a hungry wolf and devour defenders with ferocity )no pun intended). He has served two length bans now during his time as a Liverpool player. Whereas on the first occasion I was totally supportive and disagreed entirely with the technicalities of the Evra racism row, his second ban was stupid and he was at fault. As a football superstar he is an ambassador for the game as a whole and more importantly for Liverpool Football Club. With a Liverbird upon your chest and an audience of millions, players have responsibilities to live up to their status as role models. What will children watching the game feel when they see Suarez sinking his teeth into a defender. It is not a good image for Luis himself nor the club. Hopefully during his time out and what must have been a traumatic soul-searching summer for him, he has had the chance to mature a little and get over some of this rashness which envelopes him periodically. He is a fiery character and to extinguish even the tiniest flame from his soul might render him fruitless in front of goal. I don’t want him to change on the pitch. He is a clear and present danger. But his behaviour off it needs to be looked at.
I think he’ll be scoring straight away and hopefully he can lead us to an early season double over our arch rivals at Old Trafford on Wednesday. It would be a dream and a challenge for him to become the Premiership’s top goalscorer. He can guide us to that top four finish he so craves and let’s hope and pray next season we get to see him lead the line at Anfield on some memorable European Cup nights. If he does live up to expectations we will see a changed side up front, with much heavier firepower. The fans I think will forgive him totally for his close season misdemeanors. Welcome back, Luis. Keep your chin up and boots laced up tight. We are on a journey this season and you have a key role to play.