It’s not hard to understand why Liverpool are now outraged about striker Luis Suarez’s impending ten match ban for biting but its somewhat less understood what they believed was going to happen to the player after the FA panel met? Surely Rodgers and co expected a lengthy ban based on the footage that categorically proved that Suarez had indeed sunk his teeth into the right arm of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during Sunday’s 2-2 draw. Or perhaps not as the Liverpool coach came out publically yesterday to berate the sentence handed down by the FA on his star player. He accused the governing body of botched double standards and picking on the player rather than the incident itself citing other similar incidents as precedence for potential punishment options.
Previous incidents aside, including Jermaine Defoe’s allegedly biting of then West Ham midfielder Javier Mascherano and Chester defender Sean Hessey biting of a Stockport player in 2006, Suarez’s punishment was handed down by the FA due to the incident in hand rather than past cases. The player and the club admitted guilt straight away with the latter formally condoning what Suarez had done in yet another confusing move by Liverpool’s management. Whether they felt they had to following the media backlash they absorbed after the much publicized racial abuse of Manchester United’s Patrice Evra, also by Suarez is for them to determine. But it seems strange that a few days after slamming their player for an act that was “not befitting of any player wearing a Liverpool shirt“, that they would be so disappointed with the actions taken against him. Even Rodgers who went on in length about the traditions of the club, its standards and how no player is bigger than the club or its history, is now back tracking:
“We are shocked and bitterly disappointed.”It is the severity of the ban which has hurt most. That is something we are bitterly disappointed with. The punishment is against the man, rather than the incident. We have a punishment with no intention of helping his rehabilitation. As you can imagine whenever Luis Suarez receives a 10-match ban it is very difficult for us to understand and even more so for him. If I had more players of a similar mentality we would be in a different position. He has not let me down one bit”
Not to sound suspicious of Rodgers intentions but his outburst on Liverpool TV suggest more of a concern for his own neck than for Suarez after his best player by far this season was banned for the remaining games of this campaign and the starting six of the next one. Rodgers knows he has not done the job he was brought in to do and he himself has fallen below expectations. Having Suarez in his starting eleven for the remaining four games of the season might just have made the difference between finishing 6th rather than potentially 8th. 6th place in the league behind the dominant four and an impressive Tottenham would have looked ok for Rodgers but an eight placed finish behind West Brom and more importantly arch rivals Everton would not.
Suarez has come out an apologized for the incident and will accept the ban, even if his club does not. Whether he admits to having a problem which Liverpool imply by using the word “rehabilitate” will be for the player to decide but for his sake he should seek some help as surprisingly Sunday’s unsavory incident was not the first time he has been caught up in this type of controversy. Whilst playing in Holland, Suarez was caught up in a similar incident when he bit the neck of PSV midfielder Otman Bakkal during a matchand was given a lengthy ban there as well. A move to Liverpool was hoped to have stomped out this bad behavior but again controversy followed. Besides the biting and racial abusing, Suarez has been spotted stamping on opposition players, elbowing defenders and accused of cheating in games by either diving or using his hands to gain the advantage.
Legends of the club like Alan Hansen and Graeme Souness believe that he should be sold as he has soiled the name of the great club for the last time but Rodgers looks to be standing by him by now saying that he won’t sell the troublesome striker. It may be the wrong move for Rodgers especially if Suarez finds himself in any further trouble next season but it might also be taken out of the managers hands, especially if Liverpool fail in their last few games and finish in 8th, almost certainly ending Rodgers spell in charge.